10 things you absolutely must know about banking services
People are generally not very enthusiastic about choosing a checking account or a savings account. But making the wrong choice can be extremely costly.
Here are ten things you absolutely need to know about banking services to help you avoid sky-high fees and maximize the interest you can earn.
- You never have to pay monthly maintenance fees for a checking account.
Monthly maintenance fees can be surprisingly expensive, costing over $ 10 per month. Most banks have several ways to avoid fees. The most common is that your salary is deposited directly into your account each month. Another common option is to maintain a minimum balance. You can usually trigger the charges even if your account drops below the required balance for a single day. The difference between the minimum deposit requirements can be dramatic. For example, TD Bank offers the TD Convenience Account, which only has a minimum deposit of $ 100, compared to the minimum requirement of $ 1,500 at Bank of America for the basic account.
What to do: If you don’t have a direct deposit, look for a bank with an easy to meet minimum deposit requirement. Consider internet-only banks that typically don’t have monthly fees, direct deposit requirements, or minimum balance requirements.
- You cannot completely turn off overdraft protection.
If you try to complete a transaction without sufficient funds in your account, you may be hit with either an overdraft fee or an NSF (Insufficient Funds) fee. The two averaged an average of $ 35. Overdraft fees are charged if the bank approves the transaction. NSF fees are charged if the bank declines the transaction. Either way, you lose.
With Regulation E, consumers have the option of opting out of some overdraft protection. You can avoid overdraft fees on transactions made with your debit or ATM card. If you try to use your debit card and there are not enough funds, your transaction will be declined and you will not be charged any fees.
But beware. Consumers are not protected against other types of transactions, including checks, direct debits, or bill payment transactions. Even if you opt out of overdraft protection, you may still be hit with a large overdraft or NSF fees for these other types of transactions.
What to do: Buy a bank that offers affordable overdraft protection services. Banks like Ally Bank allow you to link your savings account to your checking account. If you make a mistake, Ally will transfer funds between your accounts for free.
If you are in a traditional bank, keep more money in your checking account and less money in your savings account. Most savings accounts only pay 0.01% interest, but charge $ 10 to transfer funds between accounts when you overdraft. In order to earn $ 10 interest in a 0.01% earning savings account, you must have at least $ 100,000 deposited for a year. Better to keep extra money in your checking account and avoid charges.
- Tying your credit card for overdraft protection can be costly.
Many banks encourage you to link your credit card to your checking account for overdraft protection. While it may be cheaper than being hit with a $ 35 overdraft fee, it can still be an expensive way to borrow money. First off, your checking account will likely charge you an overdraft protection transfer fee, which is typically $ 10 to $ 12. Second, most linked credit cards treat the transaction as a cash advance. This means that you will be charged a cash advance fee on the credit card, which is typically around 3%. In addition, interest will accrue immediately at the cash advance rate, which is normally above 20%.
What to do: If you need to borrow money for a short time and have a credit limit, you just need to use your credit card directly to make the purchase. Most credit cards have a 25 day grace period when no interest is charged.
- Avoid savings accounts at physical banks unless you are excited about a 0.01% return.
We live in a world of extremely low interest rates. But the interest rates paid by traditional banks for savings accounts are woefully low. The biggest banks pay 0.01% on savings accounts for entry-level accounts.
You can get a much better deal if you buy a savings account from an internet bank on sites like MagnifyMoney (My website). It’s easy to earn 1% or more. While 1% doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s the difference between $ 250 and $ 2.50 on a $ 25,000 savings account in one year. And Internet banks give you the same level of FDIC protection.
What to do: Keep your emergency fund in an online savings account. Not only will you earn a much better rate, but you’ll be less tempted to plunder your emergency fund.
- The bank has its own credit bureau: ChexSystems.
People are very familiar with traditional credit bureaus and credit scores. But most people don’t realize that there is also a credit bureau just for checking accounts. Whenever you open a new bank account, most banks will look at your ChexSystems file. And if you don’t pay an overdraft fee or bounce a lot of checks, your name will end up on the wrong list.
What to do: Make sure you don’t ignore annoying bank charges. Non-payment could make it more difficult to open other accounts in the future. And you are entitled to a free copy of your ChexSystems report every year (just like the traditional office). You can request your free report online, here.
- ATM fees are increasingly expensive and are completely avoidable.
ATM fees continue to rise. If you use an ATM from another bank, you will usually be hit with two fees. You will be billed by the bank that owns the ATM and your own bank. These fees can add up quickly.
What to do: Select a bank with ATMs near your home and workplace. If you don’t have an ATM nearby, collect money from a drugstore or grocery store rather than using an ATM. And if you travel a lot, consider banks that allow you to use any ATM machine for free. Suction, a startup, offers unlimited reimbursement of ATM fees worldwide. It is the same Charles Schwab. And Internet banking has unlimited reimbursement at national ATMs.
- You have other options if you have an unresolved dispute.
Sometimes a dispute with a bank can turn you in circles. When “asking the manager” doesn’t seem to get the job done, being rude to a call center representative is not an effective strategy.
What to do: You can complain online to the CFPB. This is a great way to get a quick resolution for two reasons. First, banks pay special attention to complaints that pass through the CFPB channel. Second, by complaining to the CFPB, you can help them determine if there are systemic issues at a particular bank. For example, if thousands of people complain that a bank does not reimburse fraudulent charges, the CFPB may discover a bigger problem in that bank and help many customers, including yourself.
- Debit cards do not have the same legal protections as credit cards and PIN codes are stolen.
One of the biggest risks faced by a customer with a checking account is that their card is swiped and the PIN code is stolen. The fraudster uses the magnetic stripe and PIN code information to fabricate a fake card and withdraw money. Worse yet, debit cards don’t have the same level of legal protection as credit cards. According to the FTC, you have unlimited liability if you wait 60 days to report the fraud. And if you wait two business days, you can be liable for $ 500. With credit cards, the maximum loss is $ 50. MasterCard and Visa do not promise any liability on debit and credit cards. However, you must show that you have taken “reasonable care to protect your card against loss or theft”. And it can become more difficult if your PIN has been compromised.
What to do: When using your debit card, avoid using the PIN code if possible. If you have a choice of “debit” or “credit,” select “credit” and sign, rather than using a pin. When looking to withdraw money, it is best to use your own bank’s ATM (with security cameras). And always use your hand to cover your PIN code, even when you are with friends.
- Applications replace branches. You should consider the quality of an application when choosing a bank.
Basic banking transactions are increasingly migrating to mobile phones. You can now deposit checks, transfer funds, pay bills, view statements, dispute transactions, and transfer money using your mobile banking app. Given the importance of mobile banking apps, you should consider the bank’s commitment to mobile banking when deciding where to bank.
What to do: Check customer reviews on Google Play and iTunes to see the quality of the bank’s app before opening an account. In a recent review of mobile banking apps, big differences were found between players.
- If you need to send money overseas, don’t use a traditional bank.
Currency exchange fees are ridiculously expensive. Big banks usually charge $ 40 or more to send a wire transfer, regardless of the amount. Receiving a wire transfer can also cost you a lot of money.
What to do: Use a startup focused on international money transfer to save. TransferWise, a startup that includes PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel as an investor, has fees that are often 90% cheaper than banks. And Xoom.com, a company recently acquired by PayPal, also lets you send money to 41 countries at a fraction of the cost. Most of these companies have great apps and you can get the job done right from your phone.