Wednesday, 15 July 2009 10:34
Financial institutions have a bad reputation for charging fees, but there are ways to avoid fees as well as save extra money by using your credit union or bank wisely.
Keep track of your balance
Here’s where the responsibility is solely on your shoulders. Keep track of your spending and make sure your deposit has hit the account before spending the money. With new technology, you can write a check at the grocery store on Thursday night, and it will clear before your direct deposit hits your account Friday morning, which will result in, on average, a $35 fee. Financial institutions actually save you money by paying for the purchase and charging you a fee for overdrafting, it’s like a mini loan. Prior to that service, the transaction would try to clear the account twice resulting in over $50 in fees, and then the check would be sent back to the merchant who would charge an additional $25 fee for writing a bad check as well as not accept checks from you again.
Check out the ATM network
ATM fees can really add up. Make sure you are familiar with your credit union or bank’s ATM network. While it may seem that large banks have an ATM on every corner, most credit unions are part of a nationwide network that allows other credit union members to use their ATMs at no charge. Also, make sure you plan ahead for an event that requires cash; hit the surcharge free ATM on the way, not the one that charges over $2.50 at the event.
Use online banking and bill pay
Most institutions offer online banking and bill pay for free. You can pay all of your bills from the credit union or bank website and avoid postage as well as a trip to the post office. Most bill pay systems allow you to pay individuals electronically as well. Owe someone money? Simply send them an email to confirm their account information and transfer the money automatically. Online banking can also help you keep track of your balance better than a checkbook to make sure you aren’t overdrafting your account.
Talk to an employee
If you are upset about a fee, make sure you talk to an employee. They can usually work with you to either help you get your account in order and on track not to overspend, or they can suggest a different account or product that would help you avoid the fee altogether. You may require a different type of checking account that allows for more ATM transactions or a loan product that would cover any overdraft transactions.