Spending More on Overdraft Fees? You’re Not the Only One

It’s no secret that big banks are getting richer off the backs of everyday people. What’s different now is that we know just how much richer.

According to a new report from the economics research firm Moebs Services, banks made a record-setting $34.3 billion in 2017 alone. That’s more than $100 per year for every last man, woman, and child in the United States. It seems especially unfair since 75% of the people paying these fees already have problems paying their monthly bills, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study.

About now you may be wondering how you can avoid troublesome overdraft fees. Read on to learn about these fees and how to pocket more of your hard-earned cash.

Overdraft Fee Rules Have Been Changing

Remember the 2008 financial crisis? One of the byproducts of that chaos was that banks needed to start asking for your permission to enroll you in overdraft protection services. They instead billed you for this service – in the way of fees.

Asking for your permission first was supposed to make the banking process more transparent. But, banks found sneaky ways to get around it, such as by not fully explaining your options and getting you to sign on the dotted line while you filled out a barrage of paperwork necessary to open your bank account (do you remember consenting?).

Overdraft Fees Have Been Increasing

Overdraft fees are on the rise. Back in 2000 when the Backstreet Boys were still a thing, big banks charged a median overdraft fee of $18, according to Moebs Services. If that price kept pace with inflation, today’s price should be $25. Instead, it’s $30, meaning that banks are charging more than their fair share.

Even credit unions—which are usually lauded as being more consumer-friendly—are charging increased overdraft fees. Again, back in the year 2000, most credit unions were charging a median overdraft fee of just $15, three dollars less than banks. If credit unions kept pace with inflation they should be charging $20.86 per overdraft, but instead, they are charging a median fee of $29—almost double what they were charging 18 years ago.

One glimmer of hope is that the economists from Moebs Services believe that the rise in overdraft fees has currently peaked at around $30. Of course, only time will tell.

How to Avoid Overdraft Fees

Even though overdraft fees can be a hairy trap when you’re least able to deal with these sneaky charges, there’s good news: overdraft fees are entirely avoidable. You just need to be prepared. Here are some options to steer clear of these fees altogether:

Look for a Bank That Doesn’t Charge Overdraft Fees

Believe it or not, it is possible to find a bank that doesn’t charge any overdraft fees. Because these fees add up, it can be well worth your time to switch to a fee-free bank. In addition, Chime Bank also processes your direct deposit paycheck two days earlier than most banks, which can be especially helpful during those tricky times when you’re still living paycheck-to-paycheck and most likely to incur overdraft fees.

Opt Out of Overdraft Coverage

Did you know that you can actually opt out of overdraft coverage at any time? If you didn’t know this, you’re not alone: 70% of banking customers weren’t aware of this either, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study. This means that any purchases you make that will overdraw your account will be declined. You won’t be charged for that purchase and you won’t be slapped with an overdraft fee.

Yet beware, this still isn’t a foolproof, fee-free option. If you pay for something with insufficient funds in your account, you may have to pay a non-sufficient fund (NSF) fee. Luckily, debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals aren’t subject to this tricky fee; those purchases will just be declined outright with no NSF fee.

On the other hand, if you write a check and don’t have sufficient funds to cover that transaction, banks can charge you an NSF. You can also get dinged for making a recurring electronic payment that results in a negative balance.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Budget and Checking Account

One of the most common ways people end up with overdraft fees is when they write checks and forget to reconcile their spending with their budget. Either that or they forget to check on their checking account balance altogether.

To avoid falling into this trap, it’s a good idea to both keep tabs on your checking account and update your budget every few days.

Always Carry Extra Cash or a Credit Card in Your Wallet

If you’re out and about, try to carry extra cash or a credit card for emergencies. By using your credit card, for example, you can pay off the charges in full so that you won’t owe any interest charges. At least this way you won’t be staring at overdraft or NSF fees if you inadvertently pay for something without enough funds in your bank account.

Hold Onto Your Money

Just remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Even though Americans are paying more in overdraft fees than any time since 2009, this doesn’t mean that you need to fall prey to these charges. You can instead follow these tips to avoid overdraft fees. You can also switch to bank that will never charge you fees. After all, it’s your money and you deserve to keep it.

 

 

What is a Monthly Maintenance Fee, and How Do I Avoid Them?

What if you asked a friend to watch over your precious jewels and she said, “Yeah, no problem.” But later on, she hit you up for a monthly fee for babysitting your jewelry. How would you feel, especially as she didn’t tell you upfront about this so-called fee? Probably a little peeved, right?

Unfortunately, this kind of scenario happens all the time in the form of monthly maintenance fees at numerous banks. It’s true. Many financial institutions charge a monthly maintenance fee if you don’t meet certain requirements. As a consumer, it’s important for you to be aware that your bank account may be charging you fees. Along these lines, you should know how to avoid paying them.

What is a monthly maintenance fee?

A monthly maintenance fee is a fee charged by a financial institution to a customer if certain requirements aren’t met. For example, some banks may charge a monthly maintenance fee if your account balance is under a certain threshold.

These fees are charged by banks to help “maintain” your account, kind of like a service fee. Banks thrive off of managing your money and if you carry a high balance in your account, you may get hit with a fee.

How do I avoid monthly maintenance fees?

Paying a monthly maintenance fee can be annoying. What’s worse: you may not even realize you’re getting charged. I remember a friend of mine telling me she was scrolling through her Bank of America account and noticed she was being charged a fee.

Just how much was she paying? The Bank of America monthly maintenance fee was $12 per month. In order to avoid the fee, she had to have a certain balance or sign up for direct deposit. The issue? She didn’t have a steady job at the time and her income was irregular.

My advice to her was to break-up with the big bank and open a bank account that had a free checking account and no fees.

A snapshot look at monthly maintenance fees at big banks

Not all banks charge a monthly maintenance fee. For example, many online banks and credit unions do not charge any fees. However, many large financial institutions do charge monthly fees and these charges vary from bank to bank.

Here’s a closer look at the monthly maintenance fees at big banks and how you can avoid them.

Bank of America monthly maintenance fee

Fee: $12 per month

How to avoid Bank of America monthly maintenance fee: Maintain a balance of $1,500 each day or make one direct deposit equal or greater than $250.

Chase monthly maintenance fee

Fee: $12 per month

How to avoid Chase monthly maintenance fee: Maintain a balance of $1,500 each day, have $500 or more in your account through direct deposit, or have $5,000 or more in various qualified accounts.

US Bank monthly maintenance fee

Fee: $6.95 per month with electronic statements or $8.95 per month for paper statements.

How to avoid US Bank monthly maintenance fee: Have a balance of $1,500 or make $1,000 or more total in direct deposits.

TD Bank monthly maintenance fee

Fee: $15 per month

How to avoid TD Bank monthly maintenance fee: Have $100 or more in your account every day.

Citibank monthly maintenance fee

Fee: $12 per month

How to avoid Citibank monthly maintenance fee: Have $1,500 in qualified accounts or make one eligible direct deposit and bill payment each month.

Wells Fargo monthly maintenance fee

Fee: $10 per month

How to avoid Wells Fargo monthly maintenance fee: Have 10 qualified debit card transactions, make direct deposits of $500 or more to your account, or maintain a $1,500 balance every day.

PNC monthly maintenance fee

Fee: $7 per month

How to avoid PNC monthly maintenance fee: Make direct deposits of $500 or more or maintain a $500 balance each month.

How to never worry about a monthly maintenance fee again

As you can see, monthly maintenance fees vary by bank accounts and each financial institution has different requirements. While you may be able to meet the requirements to avoid bank fees, there is a better way to never worry about paying fees again.

You can simply open an account at an online bank or credit union that doesn’t charge fees. For example, Chime has zero monthly fees so you never have worry about maintaining a certain balance to avoid fees.

 

 

The Problem with Overdraft Fees

“Overdraft” is not a word we like to hear. Why? It generally means you’ll be dinged with a fee you don’t want to pay.

To clarify, an overdraft fee occurs when you don’t have enough money in your bank account to pay for a purchase. When this happens, your bank will pay for the transaction and charge you a hefty overdraft fee for the trouble, no matter how small the transaction. For example, say you purchase a $4 latte without realizing your checking account is close to zero. That single latte on your debit card now puts you in the negative, triggering a $35 overdraft fee – and making this the most expensive cup of coffee you’ve ever purchased.

Banks charge overdraft fees for anything from a debit card purchase, to an attempted ATM withdrawal, to an automatic bill payment. It’s no secret that overdraft fees are expensive and unfair to consumers. But, you can avoid overdraft fees, and in some cases, negotiate them away. Read on to learn more.

Overdraft fees are expensive

Big bank are often the worst offenders when it comes to overdraft fees. In fact, Americans paid more than $15 billion in overdraft fees (sometimes called non-sufficient, or NSF fees) in 2016, according to published reports.

Most banks charge between $30 to $35 for the average account overage, but some charge more. Take a look:

In a nutshell, charging you these hefty fees is an easy way for banks to make money.

“(Overdraft fees) aren’t even closely related to the expense that the bank incurs, and serve more as a penalty than a fee for the required service,” says Chicago attorney and financial expert John R. O’Brien.

“They (fees) tend to be grossly excessive relative to the simple, inexpensive, and largely-computerized process of either returning a check, or notifying the customer that there is an overdraft and that he needs to make a deposit to cover it,” says O’Brien.

Worse yet: overdraft fees often hit low-to-middle-income Americans the hardest.

“People with large balances generally don’t have overdrafts, even if they make a math mistake in their checkbook,” O’Brien says.

Yet, those with lower balances are much more likely to overdraw their accounts by forgetting to record a check or other withdrawal, he says.

Other reasons you may be charged overdraft fees

Spending money you don’t have is one reason you may be charged an overdraft fee. But, those fees really begin to add up when you keep spending – not realizing you’ve already been charged an initial overdraft fee. Just think: for each subsequent transaction, you’ll incur yet another $35 fee!

To make matters worse, some banks levy an extended overdraft fee for each day that you don’t bring your checking account balance back to even. Bank of America, for example, charges an extra $35 per day if your account stays overdrawn for five consecutive days.

Making the most of overdraft fees

Thankfully, there are 4 ways to work around overdraft fees, and to be smart about them if you get hit with these expensive fees. Take a look:

1. Sign up for overdraft protection

Overdraft protection is when your bank allows you to use your savings account, a credit card or another deposit account to pay for purchases you can’t cover with your checking account. It automatically taps into the auxiliary account you’ve synced up with your checking account, and deducts the money from there. You’re charged no overdraft fee, but there may be additional charges that apply. Check with your bank to learn about any other fees.

2. Waive the fee

Overdraft fees aren’t always set in stone. If you’re hit with one, ask your bank if it will waive the fee just this one time. If you haven’t been overdrafted in the past, your bank may be willing to refund the charge back to your account.

3. Seek banks with no fees

Finding a bank with zero overdraft fees can feel like looking for that magic unicorn that doesn’t exist. But trust me, they’re out there. Chime, for example, is one bank that charges no overdraft fees of any kind. A Chime spending account is incapable of getting overdrawn. If you’re dangerously close to the $0 limit, the transaction will get rejected. The account will just wait until you’ve deposited enough money to cover your transaction.

4. Avoid getting overdrafted

Building a spending plan and working budget allows you to live within your means and spend only what you can afford. This will help ensure that you never get to a negative balance. Apps like Mint can get you started down the road of responsible spending.

You got this

We get it: it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending until you’ve spent more than you have. But, by keeping track of your budget and switching to a bank account with zero fees, you’ll be on your way to saving more and spending less.

 

How to Avoid Bank Fees

When you open a bank account, you’re taking a positive first step to managing your money. A bank can safely house your hard-earned cash, help you save money, and more. But, beware: a bank can also cost you money.

That’s right. You may not realize or even notice, but banks can tack on fees for a variety of things. For example, some financial institutions charge a monthly maintenance fee if your balance isn’t at a certain level, effectively punishing you for not having enough money in your account. Talk about adding salt on the wound. And if you overdraw on your account, you may be hit with an overdraft fee, too.

While these fees may not seem like a lot, they can add up. Monthly maintenance fees can be $12 per month and overdraft fees are around $35. Good banks, on the other hand, won’t nickel and dime you with fees. If you want to avoid paying bank fees, here 3 steps you can take.

1. Find out what fees you’re paying

The first thing you want to do is actually know what fees you’re paying for. But don’t fret, this process won’t be time-consuming or require you to comb through all your accounts. Using BankFeeFinder.com, you can easily see just how much you’re paying in monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, and more.

Your findings may shock you. According to the Bank Fee Finder 2017 Summary Report, Americans on average pay a whopping $329 per year in bank fees. So, find out what fees you’re paying for, as this way you’ll know where your money is going.

2. Read the terms and conditions

You may have seen an unexpected monthly maintenance fee as you scrolled through your checking account. Perhaps you thought: “What is this?!” Banks may tack on fees and require you to meet certain minimums in order to waive those charges.

If you want to avoid bank fees, you can start by reading the fine print on your accounts. Is there a monthly maintenance fee and if so, what conditions do you need to meet in order to avoid paying it? Are there overdraft fees and if so, how much are they?

The first step is knowing what bank fees you can be hit with. Once you know what the fees are, make sure you have a clear understanding of what conditions can trigger these fees. Then, aim to meet the conditions and requirements so that you don’t end up paying fees.

3. Switch to banks with no fees

What if you’re just sick of bank fees altogether? You’re tired of trying to play a game with your money and keep certain minimums or meet requirements to avoid fees. If this sounds like you, it may be time to switch financial institutions and use banks with no fees.

Many big banks charge overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees and more. If you want to avoid bank fees, you should consider looking for banks with free checking or consider an online bank account or credit union. Many online bank accounts like Chime, as well as credit unions, have no overdraft fees or monthly maintenance fees. Online banks, for example, don’t carry hefty overhead costs as they don’t have brick-and-mortar locations. They pass along these savings to you in the form of no fees. This means you can keep more of your hard-earned dough.

If you’re ready to ditch fees for good, you can open a bank account online. There are plenty of good banks out there, so make sure you find one that fits your needs. For example, perhaps you want to make sure there are ATMs in your area and that you’re getting a free checking account. And, remember: read the fine print and make sure you won’t be hit with overdraft fees or monthly maintenance fees.

By making the switch to an online bank or credit union, you can put money back into your pocket and avoid annoying, unnecessary bank fees.

Bottom line

Bank fees may seem like they’re a fact of life, but they’re not. The key is to be aware of fees in the first place and take action so you can avoid them. Lastly, stay on the look-out for banks with no fees and this way you’ll never have to worry about an unexpected fee again.

 

How Do Banks Make Money?

“How do banks make money?” may seem like an unorthodox question to ask. After all, when your bank looks like Fort Knox on the outside and the U.S. Treasury on the inside, it seems like it must be making money. Right?

The truth is: most of us have no idea how banks really make a profit. When you consider the fact that a bank holds onto your money – and that of other customers – how do banks actually afford to keep the lights on, remain in business and turn a profit?

Here’s a 101 primer on how banks make money by earning money from your money. Yup – a mouthful. Read on to learn more.

Banks leverage your deposits

When you open a savings or checking account at a bank, your money doesn’t just sit there.

Every time you make a deposit, your bank “borrows” the money from you to lend it out to others. Think about all those auto and personal loans, mortgages and even bank lines of credit. The money doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Your money is helping fund these loans. The interest your bank generates on loans pays for their operating expenses. In turn, you get paid back in the form of interest – sort of a courtesy for trusting that financial institution with your money.

If you belong to a credit union that isn’t motivated by profit margins, you may see more interest paid to you. Or, in the case of an online bank account, there are no branch locations and minimal overhead costs. This means that you may see more money in the way of automatic savings and other perks.

If you’re on the borrowing side, banks lend money to you and receive extra interest when you repay the loan. In these instances, banks are careful not to pay out more interest on deposits than they earn – as this guarantees revenue. For example, the average annual percentage yield on a savings account is 0.06%; but on a mortgage loan or credit card, the annual percentage rate can stretch into the double digits.

At this point you might be wondering: how can money in the bank be loaned out and available to withdraw at the same time? Don’t worry. Your money hasn’t vanished on you. Banks don’t lend out all the money they have on deposit. They’re required to keep enough money on hand to handle transactions and withdrawals. Your funds are also protected and insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Banks sell defaulted assets

A common banking practice is to sell or auction off items put up as collateral on defaulted loans. This may be a house that’s been foreclosed on or a car that’s been repossessed. So, where does the unclaimed collateral go?

You guessed it. The money garnered from the sale or resale of the items is funneled back into the bank’s budget.

Banks charge merchants transaction fees

If you use your debit card to make a $20 transaction, $20 is withdrawn from your bank account. But that’s on your end. Merchants, on the other hand, are typically charged a transaction fee by both your bank (the card issuer) and the merchant’s bank for electronic payments. This is yet another way for financial institutions to make money.

These processing fees — often called interchange fees — are charged to merchants to cover the interest banks may lose during the window of time called customer grace periods. Transaction and interchange fees can vary from bank to bank and card to card. On average, it’s a percentage of the actual transaction price, plus a small set fee. These fees, in turn, can add up to a mighty fortune for banks.

Interchange fees are also a way your bank/card issuer can afford to come up with the money to pay out credit card rewards, like cash back.

Banks charge you fees

One more obvious way banks make money is by levying fees on their customers. If you’ve dealt with certain big-name banks, you may be well acquainted with unwelcome surcharges. The worst part, unfortunately, is that you may have paid fees you’re unaware of.

Oftentimes, for example, banks charge account maintenance fees or penalty fees if your monthly balance falls under a specified amount. Fees are attached to everything from account transfers to canceled checks. And, of course, there’s the dreaded overdraft fee for those times you might try to spend more money than you have in your account. In fact, in 2016 banks made more than $6.4 billion in bank fees such as ATM and overdraft fees alone.

For more secure deposit accounts, like CDs, you may be in danger of being hit with fees for early withdrawal of funds. And, depending on the type of credit card you have, you may be responsible for an annual card fee, and that’s not counting late fees or inflated interest rates if you carry a balance from month-to-month.

Brick-and-mortar banks may also charge teller fees, fees to obtain bank statements, vault and safety deposit box fees, and other application and loan fees.

This may seem like too many fees to handle, but remember, not all banks are fee driven.

A winning proposition

As you’ve now learned, banks make their money in many ways. However, keep in mind that banks are also in the business of making you money. When you help them make money, they can help you achieve the same. And this becomes a win-win for all.

 

6 Situations When You Should Definitely Change Banks

Do you know how some people are quick to purchase those novel kitchen gadgets in a TV infomercial? Well, there were a handful of years when I got excited about new banking options and opened a bunch of savings accounts with different banks.

Just like people found uses for those “As Seen on TV” gadgets, I found ways to justify my new accounts. Can you say “money nerd?” Fast forward to the here and now. While I’ll no longer open a bank account on an infomercial whim, I still keep an eye out for better options.

So when is it time to say “goodbye” to your bank for a better alternative? Here are 6 situations when you should definitely change your bank:

1. When You Keep Getting Dinged With Fees  

Bank fees are pesky and downright unpleasant. Plus, checking fees, ATM fees, and overdraft charges can add up quickly. In fact, in 2016 big banks made a killing from such bank fees — $33 billion in overdraft fees alone.

And, it’s not just the big banks that ding you with fees. You’ll need to be careful when you open an account with any financial institution. While I am a big proponent of credit unions, it turns out that my free checking account required a minimum number of transactions a month. If I didn’t meet that minimum, I’d be charged a $20 fee. No bueno.

You may also incur an overdraft fee from pure forgetfulness or from a one-time expense. For instance, earlier this year I accidentally tapped into some of the money I deposited for my quarterly taxes and got dinged with several overdraft fees. Why? Because the transactions went through before I had a chance to transfer sufficient funds to cover the withdrawals. It happens to the best of us and luckily there are now many no fee banking options that have eliminated unnecessary bank fees.

2. When You Aren’t Able to Talk to a Human

Raise your hand if you don’t have time to stay on hold on the phone for an hour to resolve a bank issue. Customer service like this oftentimes has you doing a #facepalm and asking yourself whyyyy? Especially when you need to tend to an urgent matter, such as a lost debit card or suspected fraud. In these instances, you’ll want to get in contact with someone stat. If the customer service isn’t up to snuff, it’s time to take your business elsewhere.

3. When You Realize You Go Online, All the Time…

While it’s nice to have a brick and mortar branch to step foot in, can you remember the last time you needed to? l only visit a branch to take money out of the ATM, but I usually get cash back when I’m at a store.

Sure, it’s useful to go inside a branch if you want to talk to someone about say, opening a loan, but I’ve found that it’s usually fairly easy to talk to a human with an online or mobile bank. This was the case when I needed to order checks, or when I was waiting on a debit card.

4. …And the Bank’s App Stinks

While not necessarily a deal-breaker, it makes things easier when a bank has a user-friendly mobile banking app. I find that I tend to keep better tabs on my accounts and check in more frequently if the app helps me do what I want quickly and easily. Also, some bank apps let you make notes on tax write-offs or add an attachment with a transaction, which comes in super handy for self-employed freelancers such as myself.

5. When You’re Losing Money

Why stick to what you’re used to when there are bank accounts that will actually help you save money with no fees? You also don’t have to stay with a bank just because you may think you’re making more money off interest. The average savings account offers only a 0.06 percent annual interest yield, and most of the big banks only have a 0.01 percent annual interest yield.

6. When You Just Want More

Sometimes there doesn’t necessarily need to be something wrong with your bank. In the last few years, I opened new bank accounts because I was enticed by cool incentives and modern features online-only banks were offering. For instance, some banks offer easier ways to save money and early direct deposit features. These days there are plenty of banking options that are in step with your needs and help, not hinder your savings goals.

 

How to Choose a Bank Account After College

After graduation, the world of adulting offers exciting possibilities. But it also presents unique challenges – and a host of unexpected expenses. If you’re like many recent grads, you may be wondering how to make decisions that will put you on the path to long-term financial success.

Although there are many roads leading to a positive financial future, an easy way to start your journey is to establish a bank account that will help you achieve your savings goals. Take a look at our 4 tips for choosing a bank account after college.

Set realistic financial goals

Before we go any further, it’s important to define your money goals. You don’t have to get as elaborate as a vision board if you don’t want to. The important thing is to set goals that are SMART. This means they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

Let’s say that your goals include paying off all your student loans and starting an emergency fund in the next few months. It’s going to be pretty hard to achieve this without putting together a framework using the SMART goal strategy. Here’s an example of the “smart” way to turn your debt-free dreams into an action plan:

Goal: You’d like to build up a $3,000 emergency fund within six months.

This may seem lofty but once you have a goal, you can start working toward achieving it. And, the right bank account can help you get there faster. For example, you can choose a bank account that encourages saving and makes it easier for you to sock money away seamlessly. More on this topic soon.

Explore your options

If you currently have a student checking account with no fees, make sure to read the fine print because those fees might kick in once you graduate. The good news is that you aren’t obligated to stick with your college bank and there are many other options available.

One option is to look into credit unions. If you’re not familiar with credit unions, they function like banks, but instead of being privately owned, they are non-profit member-owned organizations.

When I bought my first car a few years ago, using a credit union allowed me to get a more favorable interest rate than at a traditional bank or through the car dealership. I also ended up opening a bank account at the credit union because the fees were low.

However, one drawback of using credit unions is that they can sometimes are behind the curve when it comes to technology. For example, last year, I needed to make some changes to my account and had to send a fax with my request. I then had to go to FedEx to get this done after I Googled “How do I send a fax?” An online portal would have made my life much easier.

Online banking can meet your needs without the hefty fees

Why are online bank accounts gaining so much popularity? There are a few reasons. The first is that the future is now when it comes to doing business online. And that includes financial services such as banking.

Think about it. When was the last time you set foot inside a bank? If your answer is “when I opened my bank account,” then it probably means it won’t be too difficult to make the switch to free account. In fact, most millennials prefer to bank online.

However, apart from the convenience, banking with traditional “big banks” can cost you a lot of money in unnecessary fees.

About two years ago, when I got serious about my finances and created a budget that fit my personality type, I reviewed my bank account statements for the previous 90 days. Apart from revealing one too many Target runs, I was shocked to realize just how much I paid in banking fees that I didn’t even know about.

Here’s a breakdown of the fees I paid each month:-

  • Minimum Balance Fees: $15. Upon further digging, I realized that my “free” checking account came with strings attached. If my account dipped below $100 at any time during the month, I ended up paying a fee.
  • Overdraft Protection Fees: $35.
  • Service Fees: $1. Not a huge amount but when you are a 20-something, every penny saved counts.

This all added up to hundreds of dollars each year – money I paid to maintain a big bank that I rarely set foot in. Money that I could have used to pay off debt or to save toward a vacation.

If you want to start off on the right foot after graduation, then fees should be a deal breaker when it comes to choosing a bank account. To avoid unnecessary spending. look for an online bank account like Chime that doesn’t believe in unnecessary fees. In fact, if you attempt to make a transaction that is greater than the amount in your Spending Account balance, Chime will actually decline the transaction and immediately send you a push notification through the app to let you know why it was declined. You will always have a real-time update on your finances at your fingertips.

Automate Your Savings

One of the best ways you can win at adulting is to automate your life starting with your savings. Chime makes it easy for you do this in two ways. The first is to help save as soon as you get paid. If you open a Chime bank account and select Automatic Savings, Chime will automatically transfer 10% of every paycheck directly into your savings account.

Another awesome Chime benefit is that you can save every time you spend. Chime actually rounds up each transaction made with your Chime card to the nearest dollar and transfers the round-up from your Spending account into your Chime Savings account.

How’s that for a bank account that has your best interests in mind?

 

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Switch Banks?

You and your bank have been together for a long time. Things used to be lucrative and exciting between the both of you, but lately, you get the feeling that it’s just not working out anymore.

In fact, it might be time to break up with your bank.

There could be a million reasons why it’s time to go your separate ways. And, like many relationships, it’s hard to make the decision to seek another bank. Nonetheless, deep down inside, you know you’re not getting your money’s worth anymore.

So, if you are considering that now is the time to switch banks and open a new free bank account, take a look at 5 top reasons why you might want to do so.

1. You’re done paying bank fees

A few bucks in occasional bank fees might not bother you, but if you’ve noticed your fees creeping up regularly, it might be time to start looking elsewhere to bank.

“There are plenty of good reasons to consider switching banks,” says David Bakke of MoneyCrashers.com. For one thing, if the fees and charges at your current bank are simply too high compared to the competition, it might be time for a change, he says.

Fees you may have seen lately may include overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees (which can cost upwards of $30 per incident), ATM fees, and monthly checking/savings account fees. If you bank at a brick-and-mortar bank, you may even pay teller fees.

While you may be able to negotiate with your bank to waive certain fees once in awhile, don’t expect to make a habit of it. Banks often levy fees on customers to cover overhead costs and other operating expenses. If you’re sick of paying for services that you can find free of charge, you may be better served by another bank.

What to look for in a new bank account: Some fees are inevitable, so look for a bank account that charges the nominal fees you can live with, and pass on the rest. You can also switch to an online bank account that does not charge fees, like Chime.

2. Interest rates are too high (or too low)

Low-interest rates are great on a bank loan, and high-interest rates are great for earning money on a deposit account. But, when this is the other way around, it’s a sign that your bank isn’t the right fit.

Before giving up on your bank, you can first try to negotiate for better rates. For example, can your bank lower the interest on your car loan or your credit card, or raise the rate on your interest-bearing account? If not, seek out a financial provider who can. Laura Hall, a marketing executive at Shiply, did just that, with some added incentive.

“I switched banks a couple of years ago because I was looking for a savings account that would give me a high interest (rate),” she says. “My previous bank wasn’t offering anything very exciting, so I moved to (another bank) which was offering a regular savers account that offered great interest – if you didn’t take any money back out within one year. They also offered $100 to switch, so it was a win-win for me.”

Evan Tarver, a business and investments writer, had been brand loyal to his long-time bank even though interest rates were terrible. After looking around, he found another bank that gave him what he needed.

“I quickly switched and have been earning 1.15% on my idle cash ever since, which is about the highest you can get. If you’re thinking about switching banks, you really need to shop for the (best) rates on savings accounts and high-yield checking accounts,” says Tarver.

What to look for in a new bank account: Just like you did with fees, first try negotiating with your bank to adjust your interest rates. If your bank won’t budge on rates, a new bank account may be in your future.

3. Your bank has poor customer service

More than anything else, if customer service is dismal, it may be time to say bye-bye to your bank.

“If the level of customer service has dropped off where you currently bank, that would be another valid reason (to switch),” says Bakke at MoneyCrashers.

How can you tell that the service is getting worse? Perhaps the tellers or banking associates at your walk-in location are consistently rude to you or unconcerned about your needs. Or, perhaps a real person is never available on your bank’s phone helpline. And, here’s a biggie: if your account has been compromised and your bank dropped the ball on resolving the issue, well, that’s likely the last draw.

What to look for in a new bank account: Customer service should be an instrumental part of your banking experience. Before making the switch, you might want to first talk to a customer service rep or branch manager at your current bank. They may try to improve your experience and offer you a financial incentive to stay. Failing that, shop around for better options.

4. You have different career/life/banking goals

Sometimes people simply grow apart. The same goes for you and your bank.

For instance, you may have a nomadic lifestyle and love to travel, but your current neighborhood bank doesn’t have a great online platform. A larger bank or a strictly online bank account might accommodate you better.

Or, you may have switched jobs and your existing bank doesn’t have the right infrastructure to handle direct deposits. And, here’s an instance of changing life stages prompting a separation: you just got married and you decide to combine your money with your spouse at his or her bank.

What to look for in a new bank account: In this case, it’s OK to move on and find a bank account you’re more compatible with. Most importantly, examine whether your expectations for a bank account are realistic or not.

5. Your bank is behind on technology

There was a time when you were all about filling out deposit slips and becoming a regular at the teller window. But, if you’ve since embraced mobile banking, and your bank is still stuck in the 20th century, switching banks may be in your best interest.

What to look for in a new bank account: Seek out a bank account with an online interface and app that’s to use for making payments, deposits and transferring money. Some bank accounts even offer budgeting tools to help you track your spending and features to help you save more money.

Chime, for example, features an Automatic Savings program which helps you save money with every transaction you make on your Chime Visa Debit Card. Each time you make a purchase or pay a bill, Chime rounds up the transaction to the nearest dollar and transfers that amount from your Spending to your Savings account.

 

7 Modern Features You Should Look for in a New Bank Account

Not too long ago you had to go into a brick-and-mortar bank to open a new account. Times sure have changed.

These days the competition for your money is fierce due to the rise of online bank accounts and other financial institutions vying for your dollars. This is good news for you. In fact, you’ve got plenty of choices and, if you’ve been dissatisfied with the service or costs you are currently incurring from your bank, maybe it’s time to switch banks.

Now the big question becomes: what should you look for in a new bank account? The answer: a bank account that will help you save both time and money. To zero in on the types of services available to you, check out our list of 7 top money-saving features offered by many online bank accounts.

1. No Fees

While there are some banks that still charge monthly fees to account holders, many online bank accounts do not.

If you are currently paying monthly fees on your bank account, you have nothing to lose by asking if your bank would consider waiving the monthly fees to keep your business. If the answer is “no,” it may be time to shop around. For example, online bank accounts like Chime will never charge you monthly fees for your account.

2. No Overdraft Fees

While you’re trying to get rid of your monthly fees, you will also likely want to say goodbye to overdraft fees – forever. Overdraft fees can add up and lead to big bucks for big banks. Some charge as much as $38 per overdraft.

At Chime, we don’t believe in unnecessary fees. If you attempt to make a transaction that is greater than your Spending Account balance, we will decline the transaction and immediately send you a push notification to let you know why it was declined.

3. No Minimum Balance

Although some banks charge a fee if your balance falls below a certain amount, many no longer do this. Oftentimes, however, you have to ask to open an account that doesn’t require a minimum balance in order to eliminate fees. This can be a pain and if you forget to ask and your account dips below a certain amount, well, guess what: you’ll see a fee on your monthly bank statement.

This is why you may want to start off on the right foot and open an online bank account with no minimum balance requirement.

4. Turn Change into Savings

Did you know that there are bank accounts out there that will help you save money rather than charging you fees left and right? Have you ever wondered how you could turn your spare change into savings without keeping an unsightly jar on your dresser? Well, in comes Chime with its Automatic Savings program.

Chime’s Automatic Savings Program offers you the ability to round up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the “coins” into a savings account. Even if you think this is a small change, it will add up over time.

5. Online Bill Pay

If you’re like most people, you’re busy and looking for ways to cram more hours into your day. This is where online bill pay service comes in handy.

With online bill pay, you can pay all your monthly bills from your laptop. You might even be able to do it during a commercial break from your favorite TV show.

6. Mobile App

A mobile banking app is a handy new tool that many banks offer. With most apps, such as the Chime app, you can check your account balances, transfer money around, and possibly even pay bills from your mobile phone. This is very helpful if you’re always on the go.

7. Sub Accounts

What if you want to save money for a vacation, new car, or another expensive item? It sure would be nice if you could keep track of that money separately so you don’t spend it on something else. Right?

A modern feature you can find in many new bank accounts is the ability to create sub-accounts. This allows you to keep track of your money and set it aside toward a goal. Additionally, these accounts can be used for whatever purpose you dream up.

Are you ready to switch banks and start saving more money? We thought so.

 

You Will Be Shocked When You See What Americans Pay in Bank Fees

It’s no secret that America’s big banks are raking in huge profits in fees. Last year they pocketed a cool $33 billion in overdraft fees alone. At almost every big bank, earnings are up, stock prices are rising, and those multi-million dollar CEO bonuses continue to climb higher. What we’re seeing is a massive redistribution of wealth in America. Big banks are fattening their pockets through sneaky fees that chip away at their own customers’ savings, in many cases without them even knowing about it.

Check out the Bank Fee Finder 2017 Report 

Bank Fee Finder Report Exposes Hidden Fees

To shed light on the problem of bank fees, today BankFeeFinder.com unveiled a report exposing the impact of hidden bank fees on Americans. According to the report which analyzed data from over 5,000 U.S. bank customers, Americans pay $329 annually in bank fees on average. When you consider that half of households in this country have less than $500 in savings, the impact of this bank fee epidemic is even more problematic.

Part of the problem is due to the fact that people just aren’t aware of how much they’re paying in fees. A study by Common Cents found that people significantly underestimate how much they shell out in bank fees. Their research showed that people estimate they pay $5 in fees per month on average compared to data from Bank Fee Finder which shows people pay $27 in actual fees paid each month on average. That explains why many Bank Fee Finder users have been shocked to find out how much they’re really paying.

 

The BankFeeFinder.com report also breaks down bank fees by category including overdraft fees, monthly, ATM, and other fees. According to the report, overdraft is by far the largest fee category, with banks charging Americans an average of $250 each year. While a percentage of people paid no overdraft fees, those who did were charged an average $412. This sheds light on how banks made $33 billion in overdraft fees alone last year.

Millennials Besting Boomers

The report also found that fees increase with age. Average annual fees for Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers were $308, $401, and $413 respectively. College students paid only $212 in bank fees annually (46% less than the $329 annual average). This likely results from many banks offering introductory no or low fee accounts until students graduate.

Big Banks Rack Up Big Fees

The report also shed light on how the big banks rank in terms of average fees given 87% of the 5,000 reports summarized were from five major banks (Bank of America, CitiBank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bancorp). In terms of average annual fees by bank, Bank of America account holders paid the most in fees at $497/year, and this represented 23% of all reports generated. That’s 50% more than the next highest annual average which came from Wells Fargo customers who paid $302/year and nearly twice as much as the $265/year on average that Chase customers paid.

You can read the full report below or download it here. And if you’re wondering how much you’re paying in bank fees, you can find out for yourself at www.bankfeefinder.com.