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Keep a Lid on Checking Fees

December 5, 2020

No one likes to see fees reducing their checking account balance every month. You may not be able to eliminate all the fees charged by your bank or credit union, but here are steps you can take to reduce the number or amount of fees you pay:

  • Keep track of your balance to avoid spending more than you have available or going below your minimum balance requirement. For example:
    • Check your balance at the ATM before you withdraw cash.
    • Ask if you can receive low balance warnings via email or text.
    • When you make a deposit, ask when those funds will be available for your use.
    • Monitor your account online or with a mobile app.
  • Find out if fees can be waived. Many financial institutions waive monthly service fees if you maintain a minimum balance or sign up for direct deposit. Compare fees.
  • Watch out for overdraft fees. Overdrafts occur when you don't have enough money in your account to cover a transaction, but the financial institution pays for it anyway. Many banks and credit unions charge overdraft fees of $30 or more; and because they charge per transaction, you could incur multiple overdraft fees in one day.
  • Consider opting out of overdraft coverage. You can choose to opt out of overdraft protection for debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals. This means your transaction likely won't go through if you don't have enough money in your account. But you won't incur an overdraft fee either.
  • Use your financial institution's ATMs. Many banks offer ATM locator maps on their website or in their mobile apps.
  • See if there's a low-fee account for you. Some financial institutions offer senior or student accounts. You might consider an account that doesn't allow overdrafts, or doesn't charge for them.
  • Open and review all mail from your financial institution. Review statements every month to ensure they're correct and report any errors immediately. You must receive advance notification if your minimum balance requirement or fees increase, or if certain other account terms change.

This information is adapted from a publication from the Consumer Protection Bureau. The views, information, or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Citizens State Bank and its affiliates, and Citizens State Bank is not responsible for and does not verify the accuracy of any information contained in this article or items hyperlinked within. This is for informational purposes and is no way intended to provide legal advice.