How to Combat New Banking Fees

Banks continue to look for ways to make up losses

You might be breathing a sigh of relief after the recent changes to banking fees that have taken place under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. You’re probably feeling a bit hopeful about improved bank customer service and you might even believe that banks are actually starting to care about consumers and the fees they’ve been saddled with. Well, you can put all those happy feelings away because that’s not the case. Just like most businesses, banks are about making money. As a result of the changes (which includes a ban on overdraft fees unless consumers opt in) revenues have taken a hit. How are the banks going to make up the difference? By creating new fees, that’s how.

Below are some changes that might be coming to a bank near you and how you can fight them.

The end of free checking.
Don’t take your free checking account for granted because you might not have it for very long. Some of the major banks are deciding to end free checking and charge monthly fees. Some banks are waiving maintenance fees, but have added more to their requirements such as adding certain bank products or maintaining a certain balance.

How you can fight back:

As an alternative, you can consider banking with a local community bank or credit union. “Most credit unions still have free checking,” says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com, a financial education Website. Bankrate.com features a list on its site called Safe and Sound, which lists ratings for banks, thrifts, and credit unions, a useful tool for researching a credit union. You might also be able to score a better deal on checking by staying with one bank for several of your banking needs. For example, you might have a checking account in addition to a mortgage and investment accounts.  However, McBride warns that this doesn’t mean you’ll get the best deal. “You’ll get a lower fee, but there might be something better at another bank. It really pays to shop around,” says McBride.

Changes to interest-bearing accounts.
Banks might also increase the minimum amount required in order to receive interest.

How you can fight back:
McBride suggests asking the bank to waive the requirement. “You might be able to ask for a waiver since banks are still in the early stages of creating the new fees. It doesn’t hurt to call customer service and ask for a special arrangement.”

Charging inactivity fees.
Justin Pritchard, certified financial planner and banking expert at About.com, also notes that banks might begin charging additional fees for things like not making a certain number of debit card transactions each month.

How you can fight back:
Pritchard echoes McBride’s suggestion to speak to customer service and try to have the fee reversed. “If you’re not getting anywhere, let your feet do the talking and find another bank,” says Pritchard.

Fees for added services.
Furthermore, some banks might charge fees for services like credit reports and fraud alerts.


How you can fight back:

Order your free credit report each year from AnnualCreditReport.com. You can fight fraud by monitoring your credit for free. black enterprise shows you how when you visit www.blackenterprise.com and read the article “Free Ways to Monitor Your Credit” on the website’s personal finance section.

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