Adulting is hard and one of the most important parts of being an adult is having financial stability. Money management is, in fact, a lot easier and safer when money is kept in a bank. It provides better security and convenience for everyone. The problem with traditional banks, though, is that so many of them charge fees to open and maintain an account. The thought of paying for these charges doesn’t sound too appealing, especially if you want to save more money. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these outrageous banking fees. Read more to find out how.
Benefits of Bank Accounts
Bank accounts, particularly checking accounts, are the most easily accessible place to keep your money. It acts as a depository for your funds. Need to pay the bills or the grocery? Then just debit it to your account or withdraw some cash with the use of the ATM or debit card. It’s also a great financial management tool. You can review your current statements, set budgets, and even start to save money by properly using a checking account.
Some of the advantages of having your own checking account are:
- You can make cashless transactions. A checking account makes it possible for you to go out without carrying any cash. Most all stores and merchants now support the use of debit cards as a form of payment.
- But you can easily get cash if you need it. In those instances where you need some cash, you can just withdraw it from an ATM using a debit card provided with your account.
- Direct deposit. Direct deposit means your paycheck is sent directly to your account. No more going to the bank and waiting in line.
- It is safe and secure. Your money is much safer being managed by an insured bank than hiding under your mattress at home or invested in a risky venture.
- Pay your bills anytime, anywhere. Almost every bank today has online and/or mobile banking. This can come in handy at times when you need to immediately pay the bills. If you do not have the time to pay them personally, you can just do it with your online banking account.
- You’re also doing Mother Nature a big favor. Online and mobile banking applications means less paper is used for everyday transactions. In fact, you can opt out of receiving paper statements altogether at most banks.
Choosing The Right Bank
If you are now convinced that opening a checking account is for you, the next step is to determine where you should open it. Choose a bank where you would entrust your money to have guaranteed security and growth. They are the two most important factors when opening a bank account. Think about the most suitable option for you in order to be financially healthy in the years to come. Another choice is whether to put your money in a traditional bank or a digital banking account.
Traditional banks are those with typical brick-and-mortar locations. Most major national banks are considered traditional banks. Meanwhile, a digital or online banking account has no physical bank and they render their services strictly online. In a survey conducted by the American Bankers Association in August 2017, 40% of Americans tend to use the internet for their banking purposes and 26% of Americans use their mobile phones for banking. The rise of smartphones has contributed greatly to people changing the way they live their lives, including banking. In the same survey, it reveals that young adults in the age group of 18-29 years old use mobile phones to access their bank accounts. It goes to show that more people are leaning towards this much easier way of banking.
After you have chosen your bank, reviewing their checking accounts is the next step. Pretty much every bank offers different kinds of checking accounts. Most offer similar features and services, but always look closely at the fees.
How Do Banking Fees Affect You?
It’s almost impossible to avoid banking fees. Examples of common checking account fees are minimum opening deposit, monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, and lost card fees. In a 2017 report, it was stated that Americans pay an average of $329 a year to their bank which is mostly due to overdraft protection fees. These hidden charges burdens the consumers greatly while making the CEOs of these large banks wealthier.
The three most often paid fees on checking accounts are overdraft fees, ATM fees, and monthly maintenance fees. Overdraft fees occur when you spend more than the available amount in your checking account. ATM fees, on the other hand, are charged when you withdraw money from a different bank other than yours. Monthly maintenance fees are probably the most common checking fees. Almost all major banks impose it regardless of how you use your account in a month.
Comparing Banks And Their Monthly Service Fees
Different banks offer slightly different types of checking accounts. This is to cater the different needs of their own consumers. To get a clearer and better understanding of it, we are going to compare checking accounts of major banks like Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, BBVA Compass, Citibank, and PNC. All of them offer checking accounts with different monthly service fees which could be waived under some conditions.
For Wells Fargo, the third largest bank in the US, you can open an Everyday Checking for a minimum of $25 and have a monthly fee of $10. But you can waive the monthly charge if:
- You have 10 or more posted debit card purchases per fee period or
- Your direct deposits are $500 or more, or
- You have a minimum daily balance of $1,500, or
- If you are 17 to 24 years old.
Chase, the largest bank in the U.S. and the consumer and commercial banking subsidiary of JPMorgan and Chase Co., offers Total Checking which also has a minimum opening deposit of $25 but its monthly fee is higher at $12. You can also avoid paying monthly charges if:
- You have direct deposits totaling $500 or more, or
- Your balance at the beginning of each day is $1,500 or more
Bank of America
Bank of America requires a minimum opening deposit of $25 for their Core Checking account. Its monthly maintenance fee is $12 but you may also waive it under these conditions:
- Have one qualifying direct deposit of $250 or more, or
- Have a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more
Citibank offers a basic checking account, called Simple Checking, which does not require a minimum deposit to open. But it has a monthly fee of $12 that could also be waived if:
- You have one qualifying direct deposit and one qualifying bill payment per month, or
- You are 62 years old or older
PNC offers their Standard Checking account with a minimum opening deposit of $25 and a lower monthly fee of $7. The fee may also be waived under these conditions:
- The account has a monthly balance average of $500, or
- Has a qualifying direct deposit of $500, or
- Account holder is 62 years old or above
While BBVA Compass offers a ClearChoice Free Checking account with the same $25 minimum opening deposit, it is the only bank reviewed that does not have a monthly service charge. But it’s checking account still has other banking fees imposed on it including overdraft fee, paper statements, stop payments, card replacement fee, and out-of-network ATM fees.
An Alternative Option
If you still worry that these fees are going to be a problem, there is another option for you that helps you to avoid them completely. Chime offers an alternative to these traditional banks. It’s an online-only account which means it has no physical bank. The best part about Chime is that there is no need for a minimum opening deposit and no monthly service fees. It also does not impose other hidden banking fees so you are able to keep more of your money. That means:
- No overdraft fee
- No required minimum balance
- No monthly account service fee
- No bank transfer fee
- No card replacement fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- No ATM fee
The only thing that it charges the consumer is when you withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM. That is not really a problem. You are able to withdraw from an ATM that supports Visa cards which, fortunately, can be found in a lot of places. The Chime Account is a great relief for people who do not want to subject their hard-earned money from unnecessary fees.
Now that you have an overview of some major banks’ banking fees and Chime’s free checking account, where do you intend to put your money now? If you are more inclined to traditional banks, just keep in mind that they have much more banking fees than online banking accounts. The fees might give you a headache especially if your income is in the lower side.
Some Tips Before Opening Your Own Bank Account
- Read more about different banks and their checking account offers. It’s best to compare them and determine what account suits you the best. Aside from traditional banks, you should also consider online banking accounts like Chime which is easier and accessible.
- Compare their banking fees and think about how it will affect your money. There are several banking fees such as minimum opening deposit fee, monthly fees, overdraft fees, and ATM fees. Would these charges leave your money intact or would it take a hit? Or could you avoid them all completely?
- Weigh everything once more and then decide. Make sure that you are 100% certain about your chosen bank. Think about the growth of your money in the long run.
Let’s face it. Banking fees can be intimidating and sometimes banks don’t share them up front. Thinking about the monthly charges that will be deducted from your account is saddening. Big banks impose most of these banking fees, leaving consumers to just comply with them and have a part of their money taken from them. Luckily, there are already new options like Chime that offers a much more convenient way of banking with no hidden fees. Without the unnecessary fees, you will be able to spend your money any way you want without sacrificing some unlike when you have to pay some banking fee.
To summarize, being able to manage your finances as early as possible is a good start on being an adult. It is best to have a safe and secure way to store your money so you have something to spend especially in times of emergencies. There are a lot of banks to choose from and you should try to learn more about each before opening a checking account. Major banks impose banking fees such as monthly maintenance fees, so it’s a good idea to compare bank by bank in order for you to determine where your money will not suffer.
However, there is already a more convenient and efficient way to keep your money without worrying about your money being deducted monthly. Chime is an online banking account which lets you open an account with the use of your smartphone or computer. What’s more, it allows you to view your account on its mobile banking app whenever, wherever. No more leaving the house and going to the bank just to check the status of your account. If you are not a fan of pesky fees, consider applying for a Chime Spending Account. It promises no hidden charges so you will be able to enjoy spending your money. Also, you will be able to manage your finances wisely with only the use of your smartphone.
How To Apply For A Hassle-free Chime Account
If you have decided to open a free checking account with Chime, these are the steps for getting one:
1. Open a Chime Account for free
With only a computer and an internet connection, you can open your own Chime Spending Account. It’s very easy. There’s no need to leave your house and fill out a paperwork. Your personal information is protected so it’s also safe. You don’t even need to pay an opening deposit fee!
2. Download the Chime Account app
The mobile banking app helps you to keep track of all your transactions and balance.
3. Deposit your paycheck to your Spending Account
The direct deposit feature allows you to direct your pay straight to your account. With it, you also receive your pay earlier than others, giving you more time to manage your finances.