Are you reading what your bank sends you? You should be. You might be facing new bank fees in the coming months. I recently received a notice from one of my banks informing me of new activity requirements for my account. In order for my account to remain fee-free, I have to make a certain amount of transactions from the account. I make the minimum transactions each month anyway, but the letter served as a reminder that things could change quickly — and then I’d be paying fees.
New Bank Fees Cropping Up
Free checking as we know it is becoming increasingly rare. This is because banks are retaliating about recent changes to regulation. And, of course, in less than two months they will see a cap on what interchange fees can be charged for debit card purchases. As a result, banks are looking for ways to shore up their revenue. And one of the best money-makers for banks happens to be charging fees.
Some of the new fees are very straightforward: Some accounts now come with monthly fees. Many banks, though, are trying to be a little more subtle about it. Instead of just charging a monthly service fee, banks are adding fees on accounts that meet certain requirements each month. Usually, these are activity requirements (like what my account now has) or minimum balance requirements. Don’t meet the requirements, and you could pay a fee.
Other fees are being raised. Banks around the country are experimenting with charging higher ATM fees. Some banks that used to not charge you when you used out of network ATMs are starting to change that policy. Annual fees are being added to rewards debit programs, and some banks are raising their overdraft fees and other fees. You could find yourself paying a little bit more when you do your banking.
Looking for a New Financial Institution
As you might imagine, not all banks are increasing fees. There are some banks and credit unions that are keeping fee-free checking, as well as retaining ATM fee refund policies. However, if you want to take advantage of these accounts, you will have to be willing to shop around and move your money. Do a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether or not it is worth it to move your money. If you can save, it might be worth the trouble to move your banking — especially if your new financial institution has shown a commitment to keeping fees to a minimum.
Comparison shop as you look for a new financial institution. Compare what deals you can get around town to what is available online. The great thing about technology is that it is possible to open accounts at financial institutions that might be located far from your physical location. You can find good deals — and even rewards programs — if you take the time to find the best deal.
Many financial institutions are raising fees. You need to watch for correspondence from your bank or credit union outlining higher fees. You have to be notified in advance of changes to account terms, so pay attention to what your bank sends you. If you don’t like what you see, do a little comparison shopping and then move your money.
Photo credit: tpholland