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6 common bank fees and how to get around them

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This story is sponsored by First National Bank. Learn more about First National Bank.


Have you ever looked at your bank statement and wondered why you were being charged a fee? You might have felt confused, embarrassed or even angry. Well, here are the facts:

1. Banks and Credit Unions charge fees in order to earn income.

2. Some banks charge higher fees than others.

3. Many fees are avoidable

Listed below are six of the most common fees that banks charge and what you can do to avoid them.

Fee #1: Monthly Service Charge or Maintenance Fee.

Many banks will charge you a monthly fee just to maintain and service your account. You may be able to avoid this fee by understanding the makeup of your bank account. Some accounts will have minimum balance requirements in place that will waive the fee if you maintain that balance. There may be other additional requirements that, if met, may help you avoid the fee such as direct deposit setup or conducting a certain number of transactions per month.

Also be aware of the bank's other account offerings. Many institutions will offer a no-fee checking option that has no monthly service charge attached.

Fee #2: ATM Fee.

Sometimes when you use an ATM, you may notice that you are charged a transaction fee for withdrawing your money or checking your balance. If this happens to you, chances are you are using an ATM outside the bank's network. Most banks have a network of ATMs which allow customers to conduct their business without being charged a fee. Some networks are smaller and only include the bank's branches while others are more expansive and include ATM's at convenience stores and retail locations.

To see the locations of the ATM's within your bank's network, you can visit the bank website or use an ATM locator within your bank's mobile app.

Fee #3: Insufficient Funds & Overdraft Fee.

When you make a purchase for something that is more than the amount that you have in your account, the bank will usually return or decline that purchase and charge an insufficient funds fee. If you have signed up for your bank's overdraft protection program, the purchase will be approved but will take you into your overdraft and still likely charge you a fee. These fees can quickly add up and be very costly in the long run.

To avoid these kinds of fees, utilize tools like online and mobile banking that allow you to keep an eye on your account balances. You can also set up alerts that will warn you when your balance is getting too low.

Fee #4: Fee for Copies of Bank Statements or Checks.

If you ever apply for a loan, file your taxes or need to set up direct deposit, you may be asked to provide a copy of your bank statement or check. If you have lost or misplaced your account statements, banks will charge you a fee to reprint those documents. To avoid this situation, try signing up for online statements. These statements are available through online banking and can be accessed and printed from home, saving you both time and money.

Fee #5: Excessive Activity Fee.

Certain accounts like a savings account or money market account, for example, have a cap on the number of withdrawals you can make per month. These types of accounts are subject to Federal Regulation and any withdrawal in excess of the set limit may result in an excessive activity fee. To avoid this situation, use a checking account for things like everyday purchases or to pay your bills and leave your savings account to saving money.

Fee #6: Inactive/Dormant Account Fee.

In certain cases, you may not use your bank account on a regular basis. If the account goes without any activity for a period of time, usually six months or more, the bank may charge you an Inactive or Dormant account fee. These fees can sneak up on you and add up pretty quickly since they are usually charged per month. To avoid this situation, you can set up an automatic transfer between your accounts for a small dollar amount every month. This will keep both accounts in active status.

Now you know what fees are being assessed by your bank and hopefully, you will be able to save yourself some money and stress by practicing some of these simple account hacks. For more tips like these, visit First National Bank.