Having to pay for ATM fees and other unwanted bank charges can take the pleasure out of having gotten a really good rate for your savings. With bank interest rates as low as they are now, you could end up paying the bank more than what you are actually getting from your account. Not a very smart deal there.
Aside from maintaining a well-managed account, banking smartly also includes knowing how to efficiently handle your ATM usage to avoid fees that take a bite out of your hard-earned savings. The $1.50 to $3 you are charged with for every ATM transaction you make, will no longer amount to just small change when you have made it a habit to just withdraw small amounts every time.
If you are one of those who keep telling yourself to just get used to ATM fees, read on and know that there are still a good number of ways that you can avoid paying for these unwanted fees:
•Always carry some extra cash with you. Or if you do need to make a withdrawal, take out more than what you actually require for the moment.
•Whenever possible, just use your ATM’s debit card facility when making purchases and get cash back. Stores charge a very minimal fee for this, if at all.
•Avoid using other banks’ ATMs. Ask your bank for a complete list of the ATM machines where you can withdraw free of charge.
•Know which of these ATMs are near your residence or workplace and make a mental note to always drop by when you are running low on cash.
•If your current bank offers limited options for free withdrawals, seriously consider changing banks.
•Read up on banks that offer more ways for you to avoid surcharges such as if they have a really large network of ATMs, or have affiliations with larger banks which allow free withdrawals or charge much lower fees.
•When you do change banks, make an informed decision out of the research you have made.
•When traveling abroad, convert some of your cash to traveler’s checks beforehand. Aside from putting yourself at risk of not having any cash in a foreign country should there be some glitch in the network (and there usually is), some banks charge a hefty fee for international withdrawals.
Although ATM surcharges constitute a substantial amount of the total fees that you may be charged with every month, there are also other bank fees that are unwanted yet not totally unavoidable.
•Know what account type you have and be aware of what fees your bank may charge for this account. Get a copy of your bank’s Fee Disclosure Statement which should list down all fees charged to different account types.
•Always maintain the minimum balance required. Banks charge an average of $10 for an account that falls below the minimum.
•To make monitoring your accounts easier, sign up for low balance alerts. Most banks have this useful service where you are given notice via email or post when your balance falls below a set threshold.
•If it is really difficult for you to do keep up with the minimum balance, think about going for another account that has a lower minimum, or change banks altogether.
•Tip: Most internet banks offer very low minimum maintaining balances or even none at all. If you have not tried an online account, then it’s high time you consider having one.