If you haven't read the fine print on your bank account, you might not be aware of all the fees that could eat away at your balance. Even a bank with no fees on its checking or savings accounts might have charges on a fee schedule that catch you off guard. Some of these fees can be quite hefty.
Know how much your bank or credit union charges for various services and the penalties you'll have to pay if you don't adhere to the terms of your account. Here are 12 common bank fees and ways you can avoid them -- or limit the amount you have to pay.
Non-Sufficient Funds Fee
If you write a check or pay a bill electronically from your checking account and the amount exceeds your balance, your bank might charge a non-sufficient funds fee. For example, Wells Fargo charges $35 per bounced check or returned item if your bank account balance is overdrawn by more than $5.
You might be able to avoid an NSF fee in a couple of ways. Check your account settings online to see if you can receive text or email alerts if your account balance drops below a certain dollar amount. These alerts can help you monitor your bank account balance and avoid overdrawing your account.
You might also be able to avoid an NSF fee if you transfer funds to your account before the end of the business day on which you were overdrawn. Chase, for example, offers this option for its checking account customers.
A federal rule that went into effect in 2010 gave accountholders the choice to opt into their bank's overdraft protection programs. If you opt in, the bank will cover withdrawals or purchases if you don't have enough money in your account. But you'll be charged an overdraft fee.
These fees can add up quickly. For example, PNC charges $36 every time it covers an overdraft and $7 each day your account remains overdrawn for five or more days, up to a maximum of $98.
You can avoid overdraft fees if you don't opt into overdraft protection, but keep in mind you'll still pay NSF fees for overdrawing your account. If you have a savings account with a bank, you might be able to link it to your checking account to cover overdrafts.
Capital One 360 Checking offers this service at no charge. Some banks charge for transfers to cover overdrafts, but that fee is lower than what you'd pay for being overdrawn. For example, Citizens Bank charges a $12 transfer fee, which is much cheaper than its $35 overdraft fee. You could avoid any hassle in that arena, though, and open an account with Simple, an online bank that doesn't charge overdraft fees.
Monthly Maintenance Fee
Many banks charge monthly maintenance fees on their checking accounts if account holders don't meet certain requirements. Among the 100 banks evaluated by GOBankingRates for its 2017 Best Banks survey, the average fee is $5. Of the banks surveyed, First Republic Bank charges the highest monthly maintenance fee -- $25 -- if you don't maintain a minimum average balance of $2,500 -- followed by City National Bank, which charges $20 if you don't maintain a $3,000 average daily balance.
Some banks that charge a monthly maintenance fee make it easy to avoid it. For example, Bank of America waives its $12 fee if you have at least one direct deposit of $250 made to your account each statement cycle. You can switch to an online-only checking account with no monthly service fee at institutions including Ally Bank, Bank5Connect and AloStar Bank of Commerce.
Your bank might charge a nominal fee if you use an ATM that's not part of its network. Charges can range from $2 to $3.50 or more. And the ATM's bank will likely charge you a fee of $1.50 to $3.50 if you're not a customer. These small charges can really add up.
To avoid paying ATM fees, only use ATMs within your bank's network. You might consider switching to an account that doesn't charge out-of-network ATM fees or will reimburse you. For example, Capital One doesn't charge 360 Checking and High Yield Checking account holders a fee for using non-Capital One ATMs. Ally Bank will reimburse customers up to $10 per statement cycle for non-network ATM fees.
Foreign Transaction Fee
Many banks charge a foreign transaction fee -- or international transaction fee -- if you use your debit card overseas. Banks typically charge $2 to $7 for ATM withdrawals in foreign countries, plus a percentage -- usually 3 percent -- of the amount withdrawn.
If you travel overseas frequently, consider switching to an account that doesn't hit you with high fees for foreign transactions. For example, TD Bank doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee. Or, you might consider using a credit card that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee, like Capital One's VentureOne card.
Account Statement Copy Fee
Some banks charge for additional copies of their monthly account statements. For example, Bank of America charges $5 per statement. Chase lists this as a miscellaneous fee and charges $6 per statement.
You can avoid this fee by viewing your statement online and printing it yourself. Some banks, such as TD Bank, don't charge for statement copies. Check your bank account's fee schedule before you order a copy of your statement.
Replacement Debit Card Fee
If you lose your debit card, you might have to pay a fee to replace it. For example, Bank of America charges $5 for replacement cards, unless you're a Preferred Rewards customer.
Not all banks charge this fee, so you might want to switch banks if you're prone to misplacing your card. For example, Discover Cashback Checking and Chase Total Checking provide free replacement debit cards.
Related: 10 Best Checking Accounts of 2017
Cashier’s Check Fee
A cashier's check is a secured check written by a financial institution. If you're making a large purchase, you might be asked to pay with a cashier's check because there's a guarantee that the money will be available when it is cashed. But banks typically charge a fee for writing cashier's checks.
For example, Bank of America and Wells Fargo charge a $10 fee for cashier's checks. Plus, Wells Fargo charges an $8 delivery charge for online cashier's check orders.
You might be able to avoid this charge depending on the types of accounts you have. For example, Bank of America waives this fee for its Preferred Rewards program members. You can also avoid paying for cashier's checks by banking with an institution that doesn't charge a fee, such as Ally Bank.
Many banks charge for cashier's checks, but, surprisingly, don't charge a notary fee. Bank customers typically can get documents notarized for free at their local branch if it has a notary public on staff.
Savings Withdrawal Fee
Federal law limits the number of withdrawals and transfers customers can make from a savings or money market account to six per month. Banks will hit you with a fee if you exceed the limit, so you need to keep track of your transactions.
This fee varies from bank to bank, so you might want to switch to a bank with a lower fee if you're frequently getting hit with it. For example, Barclays Bank Delaware charges just $5 for each withdrawal beyond the limit, but Wells Fargo charges $15.
Wire Transfer Fee
If you wire money to someone or receive a wire transfer, your bank might charge you. These fees vary: Wells Fargo charges $30 to send a U.S. wire transfer and $15 to receive one, and Ally Bank charges $20 to send one and $0 to receive one.
If you need to get money to someone fast, you might be able to avoid wire transfer fees by using a person-to-person payment app such as Venmo, which doesn't charge a fee if you use a debit card or link your bank account. Your bank might offer a similar service. Although Wells Fargo charges for wire transfers, its SurePay service enables customers to transfer funds to others for free.
Cash Advance Fee
If you use your credit card or a credit card convenience check to get cash from an ATM, you'll likely have to pay a cash advance fee and pay interest on the amount of cash you withdraw. The average fee is $9 or 4 percent of the withdrawal amount; whichever is greater, according to ValuePenguin, a research provider. And the average annual percentage rate on a cash advance is 24 percent.
If you need cash, use your debit card, even if it means you'll get hit with fees for using an out-of-network ATM; the fees will likely be lower than those for a credit card cash advance.
Check Out: 10 Best Savings Accounts of 2017
CD Early Withdrawal Fee
You might be able to get a higher rate of return on your savings from a certificate of deposit than a savings account. Be aware, though, that you won't have the same access to that money as you would with a savings account. The bank or credit union will charge you an early withdrawal penalty if you pull your money out before the CD matures.
Read the account terms carefully before you decide where to invest your money -- penalties vary among banks. For example, Ally Bank charges 60 days of interest for early withdrawals on CDs with terms of 24 months or fewer. Barclays charges 90 days of interest on the amount you withdraw from a CD with terms of fewer than 24 months. To avoid the penalty altogether, don't withdraw your money before the CD matures.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com:
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