8 Common Bank Fees to Avoid

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page. APY = Annual Percentage Yield

KEY POINTS

  • You have a choice of many different financial institutions to open a bank account with.
  • Some banks impose more fees than others, however.
  • Fees to avoid include account maintenance and paying for personal checks.


Don't pay more for banking than is necessary.

You need a bank account to manage many financial transactions, but they can be expensive if you're hit with a lot of costs for your account. To make sure you don't pay more than necessary, be on the lookout for these common bank fees to avoid.

1. Account maintenance

Account maintenance fees are charged just for having your account open. They usually total a few dollars per month, but this can add up. You are often given the chance to avoid them by fulfilling certain requirements, such as having money directly deposited into your account.

If you can meet the requirements for a fee waiver, then account maintenance fees aren't the end of the world. But in general you do not want to commit to paying a monthly fee forever just to be a customer of a particular bank, unless the financial institution offers some other very generous perks to make up for this unnecessary cost.

2. Minimum balance

Minimum balance fees are charged if you do not maintain a certain balance in your account. You'll need to know how they calculate your balance for these purposes. For example, some banks look at your average daily balance so you need to keep money in your account steadily throughout the month.

If you aren't confident you can meet a bank's minimum balance requirements, don't open an account that has this fee. You'll also want to make sure you're OK with tying up so much money in your checking account that you could potentially do other things with.

3. ATM

ATM fees are charged when you use an ATM outside your bank's network. You could be charged by both your bank and by the foreign ATM. Look for a bank that offers a big ATM network to avoid these fees. Or find a bank that reimburses you for using out-of-network ATMs.

4. Overdraft

Overdraft fees are charged if you try to access more money from your account than you have. For example, if you have $20 in the account and try to use your debit card to make a $25 purchase, you could get hit with an overdraft fee. These fees are very expensive. Aim to keep a cushion in your account to avoid accidentally letting your balance drop too low, or consider using a bank that does not impose overdraft fees.

5. Returned item fees

Returned item fees, or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees, are charged when you bounce a check and it has to be returned without being cashed. You will be charged by your bank and the store where you wrote the check often charges you too. These fees are also expensive, so keep track of your check book and try to keep a cushion in your account to avoid these charges.

6. Foreign transactions

Banks often charge a fee when you use your debit card to make charges or access money overseas. This can add to the expense of your trip so find out if your bank will charge you. If it will, consider taking a credit card abroad instead to make purchases, as many credit cards don't charge foreign transaction fees.

7. Transfer fees

Most banks charge a wire transfer fee if you move money electronically using certain methods. Find out when and how this fee is charged. If you are required to transfer money using a wire transfer, there may be nothing you can do about this fee if your bank imposes it.

8. Personal checks

Finally, your bank may charge you for ordering personal checks. You do not have to order checks through your bank, though -- you can get your account and routing number and order from anywhere. Some banks also offer free checks.

By making sure you consider all these fees when opening an account, you can minimize what you pay for your banking relationship and keep more money in your own pocket.

These savings accounts are FDIC insured and could earn you 11x your bank

Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. Our picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you 11x the national average savings account rate. Click here to uncover the best-in-class accounts that landed a spot on our short list of the best savings accounts for 2024.

Two of our top online savings account picks:

Rates as of Feb 25, 2024 Ratings Methodology
Advertisement
SoFi Checking and Savings American Express® High Yield Savings
Member FDIC. Member FDIC.
Rating image, 4.75 out of 5 stars.
4.75/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rating image, 4.00 out of 5 stars.
4.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor

APY: up to 4.60%

APY: 4.35%

Min. to earn APY: $0

Min. to earn APY: $1

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow