To make a profit and pay for operating expenses, banks like to charge fees for everything they possibly can, but there are ways to manage bank fees that are better than others–and in some cases you can avoid the fees altogether.
When a bank lends money, there will be fees attached to that. When you open an account, you’re going to encounter fees, whether it’s a checking account or a savings account. Even “free” accounts will have fees. They’re seemingly inescapable. Let’s go through the many fees that banks charge and see what you can do to minimize them–and if you can’t minimize, what can you do to pay them off best.
Monthly Account Maintenance Fees
One of the most common fees that are charged by banks are monthly maintenance account fees, that apply to checking or savings accounts. While these fees are not common to all of those accounts, they can be steep, sometimes getting upward of ten dollars a month, or $120 per year.
Minimum Balance Fees
Many banks, depending on the type of account, will charge you a fee if you don’t maintain a minimum balance. This minimum might be $100, $500, or $1000, depending on the type of account. While these are most commonly found in long-term accounts, like money market accounts. If you fall below the minimum balance, you’ll be stuck paying a fee.
If you overspend on an account (bounce a check) then your bank will hit you with another fee. These fees seem to sting even worse, because they’re adding insult to injury: you don’t have enough money so they charge you more money and it can quickly create a spiral as they charge you day after day. The average overdraft fee is more than $30 per day, and if you don’t have overdraft protection (in which the bank covers the charge and doesn’t return the unpaid check to the business it came from), then that business may charge you a fee on top of that.
Overdraft Protection Fees
To stop you from bouncing checks, banks may charge you a smaller monthly fee as an insurance policy of sorts.
Returned Deposit Fee
If you deposit a check that bounces–even if it’s not your fault!–then the bank may charge you a fee there, too. If you’re getting the feeling that banks like to charge fees any chance they get, you’re right on the money.
Paper Statement Fees
Some banks have switched entirely to a paperless system, and if you haven’t opted into their electronic statement program you’ll be charged a $3-$5 fee whenever they send you a paper statement.
We all know these fees: using an ATM card at an ATM run by a different bank, you’re going to be charged anywhere from $1.50 to $5.00 to process your transaction. Typically, an ATM withdrawal at your own bank’s ATM doesn’t charge a fee.
Debit Card Transaction Fees
Some banks charge you when you use your debit card, even for small purchases. These fees, sometimes less than $1 or $2, can really add up, especially if you’re making a lot of small purchases.
Lost Card Fees
When you need to replace your card, whether it’s lost or just old and not working properly, your bank will charge you a fee, and the fee can be exorbitant if you need to expedite the replacement.
Wire Transfer Fees
When you send money via wire transfer, there will almost always be a fee accompanying it, both on the sender’s end and on the receiver’s. These fees range anywhere from $30 to $15.
Savings Withdrawal Fees
On some savings accounts you have limits on when and how much you are allowed to withdraw. If you exceed those limits, you are charged a fee of around $15. Checking accounts typically have no such fee.
Ways to Manage Bank Fees
Limit the Bank Fees That You Pay
The first best way to avoid a bank fee is to limit the fees that you’re expected to pay in the first place. Some strategies for this include:
- Shopping around for checking and savings accounts, comparing the fees, and picking the banks that have the best policies
- Read the fine print. We can’t stress this enough. The fine print is where the trouble lurks.
- Check your account statements and see where you’re being charged fees. You may not know that you’re being charged a fee unless you’re reading through your statement.
- Make sure you follow the policies that you’ve agreed to.
- If your debit card charges you fees, use it as a credit card to avoid those transaction fees.
- Use a bank that reimburses out-of-network ATM fees.
- Don’t pay extra for overdraft protection; just make sure you don’t overdraw.
- If you wire funds frequently, use an automated clearing house. It’s slower, but cheaper.
- Instead of wire transfers, consider services like PayPal, Venmo, Google Pay, and others.
How Harvest Can Help With This Problem
Harvest takes the burden off of your shoulders and helps manage bank fees. It handles the negotiations for you through our Auto-Negotiate tool. Through a system that is beneficial to both banks and customers, Harvest uses algorithms to find reasons for possible refunds and it negotiates them automatically. They identify places where you could be owed money back, focus on those, and then will go after the bank to get you those fees back.
Once your fees are identified, you authorize us to negotiate on your behalf. Depending on your bank’s specific requirements, you’ll have to provide us with a little information, but then you leave it entirely in our hands.
We are currently integrated with some of the biggest banks, such as Chase, Wells Fargo, American Express, and others, and we’re adding more banks every month. If your bank is not on the list of supported banks, our system will help guide you through the process to manage bank fees and negotiate refunds on your own.
What Are The Most Commonly Negotiated Fees?
We work with credit cards, checking accounts, and savings accounts, and we focus on the fees that have the highest possibility of being refunded. For credit cards, that includes late fees, interest rate charges, trailing interest rate charges, and more. For checking accounts, we focus on overdraft fees, monthly service fees, wire transfer fees, non-bank ATM fees, and much more. The same list goes for savings accounts.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Fee Refunded?
We work based on probability of refunds, so we go after the fees with the highest chance of success. Usually, you’ll hear back from us in 2-5 days, depending on your bank. Bank refund protocols vary according to each bank.
What if I Don’t Think I Have Fees? How Do You Know?
You’ll be surprised at how expertly fees are hidden by banks, and how well our automated system can ferret them out. When you link your account to our system, our machine-learning algorithm looks at thousands of data points and finds where the fees are most likely to lurk.