Do you ever look at your bank statement or your account online? You should for a host of reasons. Have a you ever seen a maintenance fee? Fees in your account eat away at your balance. Many folks, when they happen to spot the fee, just accept that line item and move on. Don’t accept the fee.
But I have a Free Checking Account, Don’t I?
Many banks have options they advertise as “free checking.” Many Americans assume that because their account is labeled as “free” then they have no maintenance fee. That’s not the case. It’s more like “possibly free” with some strings attached. If your reaction to that news is “that’s not fair”, then you’re right. Let’s stop ignoring the problem.
How much can a checking account maintenance fee be?
MoneyRates has done a survey on checking maintenance fees for the past several years. The average monthly fee has been rising with the most recent average at around $14.13. Over 12 months, that’s almost $170. As with all averages, remember there’s certainly many cases with lower maintenance fees. There’s higher too, if you can believe it!
Why do banks charge maintenance fees?
Banking institutions charge maintenance fees because they can. The position they’re taking is most people will just accept or ignore the fee. Don’t be like most people.
Can a bank waive a maintenance fee?
Yes, of course they can. Whether they will or not is another question. Making a call to ask only costs you time. Although convenient, don’t ask via a chat or email option. Your odds of success are lower with those channels. Before you call, have your typical balance, length of time since your accounts has been open, and other accounts at the same bank at your fingertips. Present the bank representative with these facts to justify why you are such a great customer.
Other ways to get a maintenance fee waived
Balance above a certain level
Maintaining an average balance above a specified threshold can eliminate some fees.
Ongoing direct deposit
Financial institutions will sometimes reward you for a regular direct deposit of your paycheck.
Electing to get statements via paper will sometimes eliminate a maintenance fee.
Consolidate other accounts
Some banks will waive a fee based on the size of your overall relationship. In other words, moving more accounts under one bank may exempt you from some fees.
Don’t ignore other fees
We’re talking about maintenance fees in this post, but don’t forget to watch out for other fees. Banks are very creative in coming up with ways to charge you. ATM, statement, check fees, and more can all attack your balance.
Consider switching banks
Ultimately, depending on your needs and the bank, it might be best to look at other options. Think about how you use your checking account as you explore other options. For example, if you do lots of ATM transactions during the month, watch out for any fees associated with that activity. Keep an eye on your bank accounts so they’re working for you and not against you.
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