Banks are a necessary tool to navigate our daily financial lives. Unfortunately, there are aggravating practices at many banks that drive us crazy or cost us money. Here are five tips to get more out of your bank and pay less.
Tip #1: Remove cash from the right place. Never use an ATM machine that is not in your bank’s network. In-network cash withdrawals cost nothing at most banks, but withdrawals from someone else’s machine may come with a $3 to $5 fee.
“Action: Turn over your ATM or debit card and note the networks on the back of the card; or ask your bank about their network coverage. Only use ATMs within the network. Test a transaction to ensure no fee is included on your statement.”
Tip #2: Notify your credit card issuer when traveling. Most credit card-issuing banks now automatically freeze your cards when a suspicious transaction occurs out of state. This freeze often includes foreign website transactions.
“Action: Call your credit card issuer when you are going to be traveling. Also notify them if you wish to order an item from a foreign website. This can alleviate numerous headaches. While some banks may not block out-of-state transactions, you do not want to have a transaction rejected while purchasing something on a trip.”
Tip #3: Know your bank’s overdraft rules. Non-sufficient funds (NSF) checks are not only embarrassing, they are expensive. Banks make millions on their overdraft fees and automatic loan features when you overdraw your account. Understand your bank’s fees and how they apply your payments.
“Action: Look for a bank that will allow you to link another account to your checking account without charging a fee. For instance, as a courtesy many credit unions allow you to link a savings account to your core checking account. This link comes into play should you inadvertently overdraw your checking account.”
Tip #4: Always negotiate fees. If you are a long-standing customer with your bank or credit card company, call them to reduce or waive fees. Good examples of this are over-the-limit credit card fees or late payment fees. If you have multiple checking overdraft fees, negotiate to eliminate as many as possible.
“Action: If you are late in paying your credit card or have an overdraft, fix the problem as soon as possible. Only after fixing the problem should you call to negotiate the fees. The bank customer service representative will see your quick action and will be more likely to help reduce the fees.”
Tip #5: Be willing to shop. Banks understand the power of inertia. They know it’s a pain to change banks. But if you are willing to do so, you might be surprised to find better alternatives for less.
“Action: Even interest on savings accounts varies widely from bank to bank. Use the internet to quickly see who is paying what in interest. Do the same for any loans, especially car loans, which vary widely.”