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Bank Fees: Here to Stay

You’ve probably noticed all the talk of new and additional bank fees in the news; or maybe you’ve experienced it firsthand—a new bank fee for a service that used to be free. Unfortunately, that is the new norm—bank fees are here to stay.

Banks, too, were hit hard by the financial crisis, and especially by new regulations (aimed at NOT having another crisis). Now that many of their previously profitable enterprises have been restricted, the banks’ new business model is to replace that lost revenue by creating additional fees, ranging from $4 to $40, for as many services as possible.

How can you minimize these extra fees?

First, carefully examine all communication from your bank, and read the fine print. Pay attention to see if they are instituting any new fees, and see if you need to change your accounts (keeping a minimum balance, not using actual bank tellers, or banking online, for example).

Don’t overdraw your checking account: those fees have increased, and can very quickly add up to a serious amount.

Only use your ATM card at your own bank’s ATMs: Most banks charge a fee for using another bank’s ATM, even if it’s part of the same “network.”

Don’t make a late payment to your credit card account. Again, those fees have greatly increased, and are very profitable to the banks and credit card companies.

If you’ve made just one late payment, or can’t get out of a new additional fee, talk to your bank. They don’t advertise it, but frequently you can get them to waive a fee one time, especially if you’ve been a reliable customer.

It’s not necessarily true that you’ll get a better deal if you combine all services at the same bank. It DOES pay to shop around and even divide up the services you need.

Reconsider what services you really need from a bank, or if you need a bank at all. Don’t pay for services you are not using! If you only write one or two checks a month, do you really need a checking account? PayDayHawaii offers Billpay, check cashing, money orders and money transfers, and prepaid debit cards, all perfectly suited for everyday life.

For full banking services, price-shop at smaller local banks and at credit unions; both will likely offer better deals and lower fees.

In today’s world, “buyer beware” is truer than ever. Don’t assume, and always ask questions. You worked hard for your money—don’t waste it on bank fees!

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