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Avoid Hidden Bank Fees: 5 Easy Ways to Hold Onto Your Money


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By Scott Stane, University Credit Union

You may graduate with a stellar GPA, but before you join the ranks of the working world, there may still be some things you can learn about managing money. As you face financial demands like renting an apartment, getting new clothes for the job, keeping up with friends and making car payments, you’ll want to make your dollars stretch as far as possible.

A good starting point is to know what not to spend your money on: bank fees! Most people incur fees on financial accounts because they just aren’t paying attention. That’s the secret. Most fees can be avoided. It’s that easy.

Here are five tips to help you save:

  • Monthly Checking Fees – open a no-frills checking account that doesn’t have a minimum deposit requirement and gives you ATM access and online access at no cost.
    Savings: $10
  • Bounced Check Fees – also called NSF fees (Non-Sufficient Funds). These occur when a withdrawal exceeds the available balance.
    Solution: Balance your checking account regularly. NSFs range from $20-$35 per transaction. Tack on an additional fee of up to $35 from the person or business to whom you wrote the check.
    Savings: up to $65 per item
  • ATM Surcharges – if you use an ATM other than your bank’s you’ll typically be charged $1.50 – $2.50 per withdrawal (plus your bank will charge you as well for not using their ATM). Add up two surcharges a week times four weeks – that’s a lot of your cash going down the drain.
    Solution: Use only no-surcharge ATMs or get cash-back with debit transactions (PIN-based purchases) at the grocery store.
    Savings: up to $20
  • Late Payment on a Credit Card – some credit cards with low introductory rates don’t stay low when you make a late payment. Look for a card that won’t jack up the rate when you’re late.
    Solution: Read the fine print and get a card that’ll treat you right.
    Savings: up to $30
  • Choose Lower Rate Loans – students often get unfavorable credit rates because of a lack of credit history.
    Solution: Shop around for a lower-rate loan to lower your payment and total interest charges.
    Savings: will vary

Total Possible Savings: $125 and up

University Credit Union is a great place to avoid big banking fees, with free checking, online banking and a network of over 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the country.