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8 common bank fees—and how to avoid them

Understanding what triggers bank fees can help you prevent unexpected charges

Read, 3 minutes

Banks charge fees for many reasons—and if you’re not careful, they can chip away at your account balance over time. Here’s a look at the most common bank fees, why they’re charged and how you can avoid them.


Account maintenance and minimum balance

Many banks charge fees for maintaining checking or savings accounts. Fees can be charged on a one-time or ongoing basis.

Average fee:

$5 to $25 a month—accounts with more bells and whistles, like rewards accounts, may charge more.

How to avoid maintenance and minimum balance fees:

Banks often waive their fee if you keep a minimum amount in your account or meet other requirements such as linking checking and savings accounts.

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Using ATMs that aren’t affiliated with your bank can lead to charges from the ATM provider and your bank.

Average fee:

A few dollars per transaction to the ATM provider and/or your bank.

How to avoid ATM fees:

Many banks offer apps that tell you where to find a fee-free ATM, and some accounts may waive fees as a reward. Or you can use one of your respective bank’s ATMs.



An overdraft fee is sometimes charged when you spend more money than you have in your checking account. Some banks also charge for overdraft protection, which accesses money in linked savings account, credit card, second checking account or line of credit to cover overdrafts.

Average fee:

Most banks charge about $35 to cover an overdraft. However, some banks are making changes to their overdraft fees, including Bank of America that now only charges $10. The fee for overdraft protection is usually lower, and several banks—including Bank of America—have eliminated the fee completely.

How to avoid overdraft fees:

Set up alerts for when the balance in your account drops below a certain amount.


Insufficient funds

When you make a purchase or other transaction that is more than the balance in your checking or savings account, the bank may decline the charge or return it unpaid.

Average fee:

Many banks including Bank of America no longer charge a fee for returned items. Those that continue to assess a fee usually charge about $35. Regardless of whether your bank charges a fee, your payee may charge a fee as well.

How to avoid insufficient fund fees:

Set up low-balance alerts to notify you when your account is low.


Wire transfer

A wire transfer can be the best way to send money fast. However, banks often charge for this service.

Average fee:

Fees vary, but they are usually $20 or more for domestic transfers and $35 or more for international transfers.

How to avoid wire transfer fees:

For some official transactions, like a loan payoff, a wire may be your best option. If not, consider using other methods for transfers, such as online banking or a person-to-person transfer via your bank’s app.


Check ordering

When you open a checking account, your bank will usually give you some checks for free. However, once the initial supply runs out, you may be charged for additional checks.

Average fee:

Up to $25, depending on the quantity and style of check you choose, and whether you need them right away.

How to avoid check ordering fees:

Many banks offer customers free checks when they maintain a certain balance or set up direct deposit. Also, try to re-order well before you get down to having only a few checks left.


Card ordering

Many banks will give you an ATM or debit card when you open a checking account, or if you need to replace the card. However, if you need to expedite a replacement card for any reason (except for fraud), there’s often a charge.

Average fee:

About $5 per card (up to $15 for rush replacement).

How to avoid card ordering fees:

If your ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, ask your bank if they’ll send you a replacement card for free. For an added layer of security, consider uploading your card to a mobile wallet and using it for contactless transactions.


International transactions

If you travel outside of the U.S., your bank may charge a fee when you use your debit card or withdraw funds from an ATM.

Average fee:

It varies by bank but it’s typically up to 3 percent of the purchase amount.

How to avoid international transaction fees:

Consider opening an account with a bank that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you already have an account, check if your bank has partnered with local banks in the country you plan to visit to help reduce any fees.

Close Disclaimer

The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America Corporation and/or its affiliates assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment management. ©2024 Bank of America Corporation.

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