Avoid Bank Fees: Money Saving Monday

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Being in PNG has given me some wonderful exposure to ‘creative bank fees’.

Last week Friday, I had a Term Deposit (TD) that matured (a TD is just like a CD). 

The TD was actually matured 6 months ago, but against my written instructions it was reinvested for another six months.  I did my best to fix the problem, but let’s just say things work differently here in the South Pacific.  I couldn’t get my money out of the TD without paying an early redemption fee so I kept it in the TD.

When I picked up my TD this week, they gave me back less money than I deposited.  How was that possible since I was supposed to be getting a 6% rate of return?

Bank fees.

First, they charged me a 2% cash withdrawal fee (for larger cash withdrawals).  The moment I heard about the fee I switched banks, but I still needed  to pick up my TD.  When I did, they tried to kept 2% of my money.  I could have had them write me a check, but that would have been a $25 USD fee.  I actually ended up depositing the money into someone else’s account just so I wouldn’t give the bank the satisfaction of charging me more fees.

Second, the TD came due on Friday, but I didn’t pick it up until Tuesday.  As a result, they charged me a $5 fee.  I tried to convince them that since they held my money for 6 extra months I should be able to pick it up a couple days after it comes due without being charged a fee.

While waiting in line at my new bank, I saw a sign on the wall.  We are now going to be charging .35 cents per minute for every cash transaction that takes more than 10 minutes to process.  Ha.  Banks here are so slow so I’m discouraged to know that their slowness will now result in more bank fees.

All this makes me want to find …

How to Avoid Bank Fees

MH4C recommends ING Direct Savings and Checking to avoid bank fees

Here’s my five quick tips and then I’ll let you leave your suggestions.  Remember, when you leave a comment you’ll be eligible (if selected) to win a PocketSmith Premium membership for free ($60.00 value).  Get details here.

  1. Don’t try and see how low can you go with your balance.  Always try and have a bank balance of around $1,000.  This way you won’t make an accounting error that will really cost you.  When I was at my bank here, the lady in front of me had three bounced checks which resulted in some other dishonored withdrawal fees and paperwork fees.  Her total damage was $125 USD in fees.
  2. Find a bank that doesn’t hit you up for fees every time you breathe.  I’ve used ING Direct for about 6 years and never paid a single fee.  When I was with Wachovia, they charged me money to upload my data to my personal finance software.
  3. Read your fees sheet at the bank.  Every bank has a fee sheet, but we don’t often read them.  Be sure you know what you are paying for before you do it.  Bank fees can be hefty, so don’t assume it won’t cost too much.
  4. Confirm ATM locations and stay in network.  Paying $2.50 to get money out of an ATM is crazy.  If your bank doesn’t have a large network, switch banks.
  5. Don’t be afraid to fight back when assessed fees.  You are a customer.  There are hundreds of banks.  If you are getting charged for an occasional mistake, contact your bank.  If they don’t help you, threaten to leave.  If they still don’t help you – leave.  I’m all for banks making a decent profit by lending my money out, but don’t start charging ridiculous fees, or I’m walking out the door.

Now it’s your turn …

How do you save money on bank fees?


  1. Lily says

    I like the first tip. Padding your account with an extra $100 or $1000 that you never spend is a great way to make sure that simple errors won’t incur you an unexpected fee.

    Here’s a tip: sometimes you can get a fee refunded if you call or talk to customer service at the bank. It’s usually a one-time thing, but it will certainly help if you’re in a financial crisis or if it was just an honest mistake that resulted in the fee. Hope that helps. Great article.

    Bank of America really screwed me over. I started several accounts with them when I was 16, and they charged too many fees. Since then I switched over to Chevy Chase and though I get hit with the occasional $35 overdraft fee, they are not as hounding as Bank of America was. Worst bank ever. I hate Bank of America.

  2. says

    When I was in my twenties I frequently got hit with fees. After a while I started primarily using credit unions or online accounts. I read the fee disclosures when opening an account and ask the hard questions before I open an account. Overall great tips! Nowadays with the ruthless banks we have you have to be proactive to keep from being taken advantage of.

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