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Bank fees gettin' you down? Here's how to beat them

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Check Photo Credit: (2006 Uyen Le/Bluestocking)

Adding up ATM, overdraft, account maintenance and check processing fees (to name a few), how much are you paying to save?

The math is getting uglier as bank fees rapidly rise. Here’s how to avoid those pesky charges:

Fee-free checking
It will take some time and effort, but you can always switch to a different bank with fee-free checking. According to Bankrate.com, 45% of banks still offer this type of account. Begin by searching at credit unions and community banks like Ridgewood Savings Bank and New York Community Bank.

Qualify for fewer or no fees
If you don’t want to switch banks, at least find out how to minimize your fees. At some banks — as long as account holders do one or a combination of things — they may be exempt from certain fees.

For example, at Wells Fargo, Value Checking account customers face a $5 monthly fee unless they sign up for direct deposit or maintain an average daily balance of $1,500. At Sovereign Bank, Classic Checking account customers can avoid a $5 monthly fee by maintaining a $500 average daily balance.

Opt out of overdraft protection
The average overdraft-protection fee rose to $30.83 this year — a new record. This optional protection kicks in when you try to make a purchase with insufficient funds in your checking account.

Banks save you the embarrassment of being rejected at the cash register and will take money from one of your other linked accounts and toss it into checking. Convenient? Sure, but it’s not a smart way to save.


Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance expert, TV personality and the best-selling author of “Psych Yourself Rich.” Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and at twitter.com/Farnoosh.

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