5 Annoying Fees You Should Stop Paying Now
Keep more money in your wallet by trimming these unnecessary expenses
Have you ever scrolled through your bank account statement or combed through a cell phone bill only to find a mysterious and unexpected fee? These little levies may seem fairly trivial, but over time the money adds up — which means that eliminating fees can equal big savings.
If you’re getting fed up with fees, here are five annoying ones you should stop paying.
Many banks charge a monthly maintenance fee if your account balance is under a certain amount. For example, one big bank charges $12 per month. Other banks charge even more, which means you could be paying hundreds of dollars each year in maintenance fees.
Set up direct deposit if it will help you meet the minimum balance requirements. And if you often get hit with these fees, search for a bank — or a local credit union — that doesn't have them.
Getting hit with an overdraft fee when your checking account goes below zero is like adding insult to injury. A report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau showed just how much of an issue these fees can be: It found that overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees made up 75 percent of total checking fees, which amounted to an average of $250 per account per year.
To avoid overdraft fees, get in the habit of checking your account balances daily if you know you’re cutting it close, and put all automatic withdrawals on a calendar so they won’t take you by surprise. You also can look for a bank that doesn’t charge overdraft fees.
Cellphone data fees
If you’re always surfing and streaming music and video on your phone, you could be smacked with fees for extra data usage if your data plan isn’t big enough. To avoid them, monitor your data usage throughout the month. Some carriers give you the option of receiving a text message when you’re about to go over. If you’re consistently going over, it may be time to change your plan.
Also, when you’re at home, make sure you’re using the phone through your own Wi-Fi.
Plastic is fantastic, but sometimes cash is still king. If you need it in hurry and you’re not near your own bank’s ATM, you could end up paying several bucks at another bank’s ATM to get your money. Shannon McLay, financial planner and author of "Train Your Way to Financial Fitness" suggests fighting back by asking your own bank to reimburse you. “I advise clients to challenge any and all bank fees from overdraft fees to ATM fees. Every time you swipe a debit card or credit card from a bank, you make that bank money, which means you are valuable to the bank, and you shouldn't have to pay fees.” Contact your bank and try to negotiate getting the fees waived. You also can consider using a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees and will reimburse you for such charges at other banks’ ATMs.
If you need to withdraw cash often, keep a map of your bank’s ATMs in your wallet. Better still, kill two birds with one stone and ask for cash back when using your debit card at the grocery store.
International calling fees
Traveling abroad can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life. But when you want to stay in touch with family and friends back home, you could be hit with hefty fees from international calls. Modern technology can help. Try Skype to make free video calls — you can even call mobile phones or landlines directly for a low cost compared to pricey international fees. Or call your wireless carrier before you leave to discuss international calling and possibly change your data plan to avoid extra charges.
Related: What to Teach Your Kids About Money