How to Eliminate or Reduce Bank Fees

avoid bank feesBack in 2008, reports showed the Australian banks making more than 11 billion dollars in added fees charged to their customers. After seeing these staggering numbers, along with numerous complaints, the government stepped in to regulate the amount of fees that banks can charge.

Even with this needed change, the fees have not been eliminated and following these tips can assist in avoiding being charged anything in the future. Below is a list of tactics to help.

Get the right account – you’d be surprised
The first step is to take some time to make sure you have the correct accounts for your needs. Often time’s people sign up to an account that they believe is suitable or is suitable at the time but then don’t make changes when needed. People get set in their ways and can’t be bothered taking the time to change their accounts. This is a big mistake as it will continue to cost you money in the long run.

One are two small features can make the difference in having a suitable account for how you spend and save. Be wary of accounts that say no fees as there is always a catch which will be in the T&C’s such as amount minimums or maximums, transaction amounts, etc. There is often a list of guidelines that you must meet to enjoy the free banking (nothing is truly free).

Regularly check statement
As a follow up to the above point, regularly check your account to make sure that everything is in order and that you aren’t in danger of falling outside the guidelines of your account terms. This is really important with account balances. If you are living paycheck to paycheck there may be periods when your account gets real low each month. Any unexpected transaction can send you into the negative which can be a breach of a minimum account term.

This is one example of a very common occurrence for many Australians.

Always pay minimum at a minimum
When paying your credit card, loan or mortgage through your bank, always make sure you pay at least the minimum amount due and that you pay it on time. Payments even one day late may be subject to additional fees. Mark the date on your calendar or sign up to have the payments automatically come out of your account to avoid late charges.

If you are in a situation where you won’t be able to make a payment, call your bank or lender and ask for an extension or repayment date change – 99% they will work with you and help you avoid a fee. If they won’t, you should really think about who you are banking with.

Always use the bank’s ATM or partner’s network
You will have to pay a fee for using another bank’s ATM machine to withdraw money. While the $2 to $3 extra to use another machine may not seem like a lot, it can really add up during the year if used regularly. If there is no convenient ATM machine near your home or work, you may want to consider changing banks to one in your area.

Also, if you are going to take cash out from a general ATM, make sure you take out enough to cover you for whatever you are doing. Multiple uses of a general ATM will only cost you more money.

Sign-up for online banking
You definitely want to sign up for online banking. This will give you easy access to check your account information on a regular basis. This can help you avoid overdraft fees by staying on top your account balance. It can also help you keep track of any auto payments you have set up and notify you instantly of any unnecessary bank fees. You can also transfer money from one account to another to avoid overdraft fees, and make online payments instantly.

Plan your transactions
This may not be that much of an issue if you have an account that has unlimited transactions attached to it and you do a great job of budgeting/managing your money. Although if you have an account that has a set amount of transactions to it or you have a problem with over spending, it would be very wise to plan your transactions to avoid fees for excessive transactions. It would even wiser to look for a more suitable account if you have been getting slugged with these fees.

Fee waiver
If you are under 18-years old or over 60-years old and receive payments from Centrelink, or are a full-time student, you may be eligible to have some, or all of your bank fees waived. You should talk to a representative at your bank and see what options are available. If your bank does not offer this service, you may want to shop around and find a bank that does.

These tips will help you save money on your bank fees throughout the year. The most important thing is to keep track of your bank account balance so you can avoid spending more money then you have available. This will also make you aware of any extra charges that the bank may be applying to your account. Do not be afraid to ask your bank what the charges are and how to have them removed. Also, shop around every couple of years to make sure your bank is still offering the lowest fees possible.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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