Checking & Debit Fees to Avoid

Zachary Ehrlich

By Zachary Ehrlich
Posted on Tue Nov 8, 2011, Last Updated on Wed Jul 16, 2014

Zachary is a staff writer and a columnist for MyBankTracker.com. He covers tech news and trending topics, while incorporating relevant past content. More Columns »

You have enough expenses to worry about as a college student, your bank account shouldn’t be one of them. Here is an extensive guide to avoiding those fees associated with some accounts.

If you have set up a new checking account or have gotten a prepaid debit card, this means brand new financial responsibility. The first way to stay on top of your finances and maintain a budget is to avoid unnecessary fees.

Checking & Debit Fees to Avoid

Story Highlights:

  1. They myth of “free” checking accounts
  2. How to avoid checking account fees
  3. Prepaid debit card fees to avoid
  4. What to look for in a prepaid debit card/checking account

Most fees can be avoided by maintaining a minimum account balance, setting up direct deposit and not over-drafting. Many banks offer a free checking account, meaning monthly account maintenance fees will be waived if these stipulations are met.

It’s important to keep in mind that most “free” checking accounts are only free when properly maintained. Gone are the days when a free checking account was actually free with no fine print or footnotes. Therefore, to ensure that you avoid paying unnecessary fees, talk to a service representative at your bank so you know the details of your account.

If you have enough capital to meet the above requirements you are halfway to a free checking account. The final speed bumps are costly ATM fees and over-drafting your account. If you don’t have regular access to your bank’s ATM, find the one with the lowest fee nearby. Beware of other banks that charge the most for outside customers.

Another way to avoid ATM fees is by choosing to get cash back on debit card purchases. It’s free for you because the merchant pays a fee to swipe your debit card, so the transaction has already been paid for.

Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a checking account your next best option is acquiring a prepaid debit card. Some of these cards can be very fee heavy, no matter how well you maintain it. The key is shopping around to find the one with the fewest fees!

Some fees you should look to avoid include: purchasing the card online, monthly maintenance, activation, balance inquiries, alerts, card replacement, overseas usage and loading via bank account. Once again, though, you must look out for the dreaded ATM fee of $2 for every withdrawal. Look for a card offering the first withdrawal of the month free.

Always be sure to keep track of what fees a prepaid debit card implements. If you know what you are being charged for, then you are more likely to avoid a fee.

Whether you have a prepaid debit card or a standard checking account, do all in your power to keep unnecessary fees out of your budget. Nothing is more frustrating than paying banks for no reason and if you are diligent and responsible you can ensure you won’t give up any of your hard-earned money.

Key Takeaways:

  1. A “free” checking account is only free if you meet certain requirements.
  2. Meeting said requirements can mean avoiding unnecessary hidden fees.
  3. Choose a card that offers the best value and least fees!
  4. There are ways to avoid fees even with a prepaid debit card.
 

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  • Tom Price

    A company called fisoc has developed a BuzzBanking platform that combines banking rewards programs with social media. Their goal is to enable credit unions and community banks to offer the same level of services the mega banks offer, but without the maze of fees. BuzzBanking is also ideal for Internet savvy college students who prefer to bank online. The result is a win for the banks, consumers and area merchants where the reward points are redeemed.