Are your bank charges a cause of stress? Are you wondering why you must pay every time you perform a transaction? Seeing your bank charges add up to substantial sums can be irritating and annoying.
While this is happening your bank might provide poor service, or worse still refuse to support you. “And I still have to pay bank charges?” might be the question on your mind.
So can we totally eliminate these charges? No. Banks exist to provide financial services. They are expected to charge customers and make a profit. Bank charges therefore represents compensation for services rendered. Alas without it no bank would be able to survive, let alone thrive.
Bank charges may differ from country to country. In certain climes government collects stamp duty, a tax on banking transactions in addition. Bank charges, like death and taxes have now become a fact of life. You can hardly fight or refuse to pay them. Banks take the money out of your account monthly. In fact, the more transactions you undertake the greater the charges.
While these charges are here to stay certain steps can be taken to reduce them to the barest minimum. You need to do the following:
Acquaint thyself with your current exposure to bank charges
Come to terms with your bank charges by making a detailed study of your statement. Request your statement from the bank and check, on a line by line basis transactions done in the month. Also check what your total charges amount to. You could be in for a rude awakening. I recently did, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I didn’t have a clue that I was paying so much on charges. You can only make changes when you understand the magnitude of the problem.
Know the number of transactions you undertake regularly
How many bank transactions do you make in a day? Do you know that each time you use the ATM, POS machines, mobile or internet banking is one banking transaction? And each usage may have fees attached. Go through your bank statement to identify why so many transactions. Try to understand the reason behind each transaction to see if it could be minimized or eliminated subsequently.
Use only your bank’s ATM
It costs far less to use only your bank’s ATM machines where possible. Your bank fees will be higher when you’re using the ATMs that of another financial institution, compared to when you’re using yours. Thus it makes good sense to use the services of a bank with a wide coverage of ATMs in your home or office area as these are usually the places where you undertake banking transactions the most.
Paying recurring bills in cash
It’s advisable to keep some loose cash to pay smaller and regular bills. At the beginning of the week withdraw certain amounts to cover all your recurring expenses. Petrol, Transport, Lunch, Telephone etc could be planned for. This will cause you to avoid whipping out your card to pay for these items thus causing your bank charges to skyrocket.
Leave plastic cards at home whenever possible.
Carrying your plastic cards everywhere you go is not a good idea. You should leave them at home from time to time. Planning what you want to spend on in advance can help minimize spending. You could then carry only the money for your planned spending on you. Try to make it a little bit harder to access your money wherever you go.
Earmark several days as “no spending days”
Mark several days in your calendar as days where you won’t be spending any money. Start out with one day a week which could grow to several days a week. No spending amounts to no charges. So challenge yourself not to spend. You’re not going to die if you don’t spend.
Seek for accounts with lower bank charges
Currently there are a wide variety of bank account products. In the past it used to be only current and savings accounts. There are accounts for small and big businesses, children, students, retired people, high net worth individuals and so on.
Please research and weigh the pros and cons before you sign up for any account. Be constantly on the lookout for accounts with lower fees that best matches your requirements such as lower bank charges.
Use debt wisely
Be careful when you use debt. Especially when it is not for purposes that will bring more money into your pocket. For instance using your credit card to pay for items. If you don’t pay back within the time limit the bank will charge interest on the debt plus several fees for using the card. The same occurs when you have a loan facility. Interest rates and bank charges usually in favor of the lender, not the lendee. Taking on debt usually causes your bank charges to increase significantly.
Trim down the number of accounts you have
The more accounts you operate/keep the more bank charges you pay out, pure and simple. Most people keep plenty of accounts. Some might have even gone dormant. I’m sure when you calculate your total bank charges in one year you might realise the level of wastage you have been exposed to. It’s time to streamline the number of accounts you have. There are several debates on how many accounts someone should have. I urge you to be mindful and not duplicate similar accounts unnecessarily.
Avoid issuing dud checks
It’s a serious offence in many countries to issue a check and not have the corresponding amount in your account. One could be prosecuted and jailed as a result. Whenever your check bounces you will be charged substantial penalty for wasting the resources of the bank clearing system.
Request for soft copies of your bank statement
You can easily accrue substantial bank charges on your account when you request for hard copies of your bank statement. Your bank charges you a flat fee per page that could become substantial when you consider the number of pages of transactions you may have generated within the period. Unless it’s mandatory to get hard copies ask for soft copies that can be sent to your mail instead.
Make use of email alerts over SMS alerts
Financial institutions charge you for every SMS they send with details of your transactions. The same cannot be said about email alerts which are free. SMS fees might look small but when you add up over a long period of time it can amount to a tidy sum. Thus it pays to request for only email alerts especially when you can receive emails via your phone.
I’d like to re-emphasize the importance of taking time to study your account statement with a view to grasping the enormity of your bank charges. Work out how much you have been paying as bank charges in the last year.
Take heed to implement all the key points listed above to reduce fees paid going forward. This is guaranteed to save you thousands yearly. Now who wouldn’t be happy with that?
Please drop us a line in the comments section if you have any additional ideas that have helped reduce your bank charges.