Having a bank account is essential if you need a place to securely stash your money but it comes at a cost in the form of fees both large and small. While there are some ways you can get around those annoying checking account fees, others are impossible to avoid if you need specialized services.
If you’re tired of giving your money away, knowing what can trigger the worst bank fees may help you hang on to more of your cash. MyBankTracker has rounded up some of the most frustrating fees that can leave you feeling like you’ve been nickel and dimed by your bank.
1. Talking to a Teller
Standing in line at the bank isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time but it’s especially frustrating if you have to pay a fee just to talk to the teller. A number of banks, including Bank of America and PNC, have introduced new account rules that are designed to encourage customers to manage their accounts through self-service options instead.
If you’ve got a PNC Virtual Wallet account, for example, the fee is $7 a month (for Virtual Wallet and Virtual Wallet Student) unless all your withdrawals and deposits are done at the ATM, online or through your mobile device. If you’re pretty tech-savvy, that may not be a big deal but it’s more of a nuisance for someone who prefers to handle their money face-to-face.
2. Visiting Another Bank’s Branch
As if it wasn’t bad enough to have to pay to speak to a teller at your own bank, you may have to pony up a few extra bucks if you make an in-person withdrawal at another financial institution. If you’re a Bank of America customer, for example, it’ll cost you between $5 and $10 to get money out of your account using your debit card at another bank’s branch.
Online banks like Ally reimburse customers for using ATMs, so if you’re constantly running to the ATM to pull out cash, consider opening an online account so you don’t get charged.
3. Tracking Down Old Transactions
If you can’t find your old bank statements or you’ve got a charge showing up on your account that you need to dispute, be prepared to pay the bank for their time if they have to do some digging on your behalf. TD Bank, for instance, charges an hourly fee of $25 to backtrack through your transaction history and investigate unauthorized charges. If you need your statement reconstructed from the ground up, that’ll cost you $40 an hour at HSBC.
Tip: If you sync your bank accounts to Mint, all of your transactions from that point forward are automatically recorded and you can even search your history by date, which can eliminate the need to have the bank do it for you.
4. Making Copies
Banks are heavily pushing electronic statements these days but if you need to get certain account information on paper, it’s going to cost you. Beginning this year, Citibank is charging customers $5 for copies of paper statements, deposit tickets, tax forms and canceled checks.
You can avoid this fee by simply going online and printing them out yourself.
5. Verifying your Balance
Making a big purchase that requires financing, like a new home, means jumping through plenty of hoops where your finances are concerned. At some point, your lender may want to see written verification of how much cash you have in the bank and depending on where you keep your account, you’ll have to pay to get it. HSBC, for instance, charges $20 for verification letters plus $5 for every additional copy you request.
6. Replacing your Debit Card
Losing your debit or finding out that it’s been hacked by an identity thief is annoying to say the least but getting a new card issued can add to your headaches. At the minimum, you’ll pay somewhere around $5 to get a replacement debit card. If you can’t wait the standard 10 to 14 business days for processing, you’ll have to pay a little more to get it sooner. At U.S. Bank, the express delivery charge comes up to $25.
Banks have recognized the fact that identity theft is a common occurrence and some have started waiving the fee to replace debit cards. If you need to replace your card because a thief tried to use your personal information and debit card, be sure to ask your bank to waive the fee, if they don’t already.
7. Getting Sued
If you fall behind on a credit card bill or another debt, your creditor may decide to take the case to court. If they win, they can either try to garnish your wages or seize the money in your bank account to collect on a judgment. As if having your cash get scooped up isn’t bad enough, your bank may charge you a fee for carrying out the order. At Wells Fargo and several other bigger banks, you’ll be out another $125 if money in your account is garnished by a court order.
Did you know? Certain funds, including Social Security payments and federal employee retirement benefits, are exempt from garnishment.
8. Forgetting to Update your Address
If you still get paper statements in the mail for your bank account or mortgage loan, you’ll want to make sure you keep your address current if you move. Banks can and do charge returned mail fees when something they send to you comes back as undeliverable. SunTrust members, for example, pay $5 a month for any mail that ends up getting returned.
9. Sending or Receiving Money
Transferring money to another bank by wire or having someone wire cash into your account costs a pretty penny, especially if the other financial institution is a foreign bank. At Chase, you’ll pay $15 for incoming transfers if they don’t come from another Chase account. The charge goes up to $30 for outgoing wire transfers to banks other than Chase and $45 if you’re sending money outside the U.S.
10. Closing your Account
If you’re tired of all the fees your current bank is charging you and you’re ready to move on, you may not get away scot-free. Certain banks, including HSBC and SunTrust, will hit you with a $25 penalty if you close your account within 180 days after opening it.
It’s not realistic to go completely bankless, and let’s face it, banks won’t eliminate any of these fees anytime soon, so one way to minimize paying for fees is by turning to an online bank. Because online banks don’t have as much overhead to worry about, they can usually get away with charging their customers less for their accounts. You don’t necessarily have to ditch your brick-and-mortar bank for good, but it will work to your advantage to also have an online account, since it’s free anyway. Here is MyBankTracker’s comparison of the best online banks.
Rebecca is a writer for MyBankTracker.com. She is an expert in consumer banking products, saving and money psychology. She has contributed to numerous online outlets, including U.S. News & World Report, and more.