How to Avoid 2015’s Higher Bank Fees

ATM fees hit a new high this year and so did overdraft fees and some other account fees, according to the 17th annual Bankrate Checking Survey. On average, consumers using out-of-network ATMs now pay $4.35/transaction, up 5% in 2014.*

Fees in 2015 promise to be higher, too. Sometimes those pesky fees can’t be avoided, but getting dinged with several ATM charges every month signals sloppy financial habits you can fix.

Plan ahead, even a little!
1. Withdraw more money in one transaction rather than make two smaller withdrawals the same week.
2. Choose an ATM in your network. To find one, use a free app called “ATM Locator.”
3. Use your debit card at the store and get cash back there instead (restrictions may apply).
4. Switch to an account at a bank with ATM locations convenient for you.

Another fee on the rise? Overdraft fees, or getting dinged for not having enough in your account to make the purchase.

How to avoid overdrafts:
• Opt-out! Choose to have a debit card purchase declined rather than pay a fee (means you “opt out” of overdraft protection, thanks to a recent Federal Reserve rule for banks).
• Keep more money in your account.
• Watch your account balance and check your activity.

Most checking account customers can avoid fees by following the rules and paying attention to transactions. For starters, that probably means you must use direct deposit and keep a minimum balance. Fees are typically higher on checking accounts earning interest but require a minimum balance. Ask yourself if that meager interest rate is worth it.

* Bankrate’s survey covers the nation’s 10 largest banks in the 25 largest markets and was conducted late summer, 2014.

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