How to avoid fees
Other feesRun down our list of the most common checking account fees and you'll find plenty that can be avoided with some planning -- counter checks, account closed early, early withdrawal fee for CDs, teller fee and inactive account to name a few.
Unavoidable feesSome, such as a fee for a safe deposit box, are unavoidable. Some services you might be able to find cheaper elsewhere. Check printing and money orders are two that come to mind.
Get the scheduleAsk for a copy of the bank's fee schedule before opening an account. Don't get caught off guard by fees. Know if your bank charges a debit card fee every time you use the card. If you want to pay bills online, shop for a bank that offers the service for free. The tricky thing for consumers today is that checking accounts have many options -- not like years ago when your biggest decision may have been the color of the checks.
Bankrate.com can help you get started when researching checking accounts. You'll find fee data on hundreds of checking accounts from across the country -- categorized geographically so you can check institutions in your city. The data includes:
Debit cards at a glance
- Minimum amount required to open an account
- Minimum amount required to avoid fees
- Monthly service fee
- NSF fee
- Fee charged to use another bank's ATM
- The surcharge fee
What happens when a bank erroneously charges you a fee? You might think it should be easy to have the situation corrected. Not always. In the next section, we'll show you how to complain and win!