8 Great Ways to Avoid Growing Bank Fees

  • Know the Rules of Bank Charges New regulations have changed what banks can and can't charge for. You'll receive notice about those fee changes, but you have to open the bank's letters that land in your mailbox. For example, you may receive a note from your bank that your previously free checking account has imposed new monthly fees if you don't maintain a minimum balance.Read the notices sent by your bank so you aren't unpleasantly surprised. "You've got to be an educated consumer," says Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, author of "Creating Wealth from the Inside Out." "You have to take the initiative to understand your accounts."
  • Go Online for Lower Fees Brick-and-mortar banks can be great if you like to have face-to-face contact with your banker. But to save on bank fees, go online, says Ramit Sethi, a personal finance blogger and author of "I Will Teach You To Be Rich.""Online banks are my favorite, because they're not trying to nickel and dime you for fee after fee," he says. Switch to an online bank and you can save from $4 to $25 on monthly maintenance fees on accounts.
  • Get a Bank Rep on the Phone Navigating the legalese in most bank brochures and websites can be tough, but a phone call to one of its branches can help you understand how much they charge in bank fees and the parameters under which they make those charges."Most customer service reps at banks can call your account up, look at your pattern of banking and suggest the best account for you," says Weston. "Banks don't always do a good job explaining the fees on their websites, but if you can get someone on the phone who is willing to spend a little time with you, you can find an account that you can live with."
  • Add Services to Reduce Fees

    Most banks want you to use as many of their services as possible, and they'll give you free perks for doing so. Many of those services won't bring additional bank fees and can help you get the free checking account and savings account you want, says Weston.

    "Things like direct deposit, online-only banking and paperless statements help banks," she says. "These are all things that can raise you just a bit in the hierarchy of profitable customers."

    For example, Wells Fargo will waive its $5 monthly account fee on its everyday checking account if you sign up for direct deposit; Citibank allows you to waive its $9.50 monthly fee if you have a combined average balance of $6,000 among several accounts, from checking and savings to retirement.

    Next >

    Bankrate.com is the Web's leading aggregator of information on financial products including mortgages, credit cards, new and used automobile loans, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. Visit Bankrate.com to get the tools and information that can help you make the best financial decisions.