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.
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Using ATMs that aren’t affiliated with your bank can lead to charges from the ATM provider and your bank.
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.
How to avoid overdraft fees:
Set up alerts for when the balance in your account drops below a certain amount.
When you make a purchase or other transaction that is more than the amount in your checking or savings account, and you haven’t opted into an overdraft program, the bank may decline the charge or return it unpaid.
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.
A wire transfer can be the best way to send money fast. However, banks often charge for this service.
It varies, but usually $20 or more for domestic transfers and $35 or more for international transfers.
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.
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 for maintaining a certain balance or setting up direct deposit. Also, try to re-order well before you get down to having only a few checks left.
Many banks will give you an ATM or debit card when you open a checking account, but if you lose it or need to replace it for any reason (except for fraud), there’s usually a charge.
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.
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.
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.