How to Avoid Checking Account Fees

No matter where you are in your life journey, it is essential to expand on your financial well-being. For most of us, that starts with knowing the basics of your checking account.

A checking account is often the first type of account you will establish with your bank, and it serves as a vehicle for depositing your paycheck, paying bills, etc. With that in mind, it is crucial to learn how to avoid checking account fees and maximize your account benefits. Let's dig in.

Your checking account is the engine that drives your day-to-day finances. Some checking accounts are simply a way to pay bills and access cash, while others add a range of interest rates and convenient features. They all require a few steps to make sure you get the most out of them – and avoid paying fees.

The majority of checking account fees are avoidable by following few steps:

Set up the account type that fits your lifestyle. Many banks offer free checking accounts. At the time of account opening, ask all the questions about each account's pros and cons. What's needed to avoid monthly fees? Is it a minimum balance that needs to be maintained, or does it require you to set up online banking/e-statements? Read the disclosures, which include a schedule of fees to help you understand the best way to manage the checking account without assessing any fees.

Avoid depositing physical checks – direct deposit is a key factor. Banks have their own funds availability policies and guidelines; when you're depositing your check in person, it could go on extended hold. This could cause your transactions to get rejected and generate fees for each transaction. Direct deposit means immediate availability of your funds.

Avoid overdraft fees. Set up a line of credit or link your savings account as an overdraft sweep account. Many consumers don't know that they can set up their savings account as an overdraft sweep account. Doing so can alleviate any non-sufficient funds, which could add up to hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees overnight. Also, remember many banks offer incentives when the savings account relationship is more significant. If you choose not to save a linked savings account, you can also ask your bank for a small overdraft personal line of credit. You can then link that to your checking account.

Avoid foreign ATMs (not your bank). Many consumers think if they use an All-Point atm, that their bank won't charge them. However, since the ATM belongs to another bank, the incurred charges get passed through to you. This makes it easy for you to rack up many fees using another's bank ATM. Pay attention to the fine prints when you're taking money out of the ATM.

Don't overspend your checking account: Keep an eye on your transactions, and don't spend more than you have in your account. Avoid bounced checks and rejected transactions; those could also cause assessing fees.

Set up alerts: utilize your online banking features and set up notifications. Alerts could notify you when you receive a deposit, when a transaction is processed, and if your balance falls below a trigger you set.

Keep an extra cushion in your checking account. Don't let your checking balance get to a low amount. It could lead to bounced checks and rejected transactions.

In conclusion, following the best practices mentioned above and having a good understanding of your bank account features will ensure you avoid bank fees and stay in budget. If you are unsure, reach out to your bank and visit their web site. They can help you by providing you with the proper disclosures and resources.