Get good bank rates, avoid bad bank fees

You could spend hours comparing bank rates, but it's important to make sure your cash works for you and not the bank via backdoor fees. Remember these three tips for beating sneaky checking and savings account fees.

Read, read, read

Maximizing your return on bank rates requires some reading. You should understand account maintenance fees and how to catch bank errors. Reading your monthly account statement is crucial to understanding how much your bank charges you, which services are costing you the most and how you can avoid handing over your hard-earned dollars for nothing.

Are you cash-crazy?

If you constantly withdraw money at ATMs outside your bank's network, those fees add up. A 2010 Bankrate study found patrons paid an average of $2.33 to use an ATM, up from 2009's $2.22. Before you take out $40 without a thought, consider how much that withdrawal will really cost you.

Eliminate the overdraft

New federal legislation protects consumers from overdraft fees, so your bank has probably sent a notice inviting you to "opt-in" for overdraft coverage. Decline the overdraft protection; instead, manage your finances wisely and keep track of the money in your account. Even the best bank rates can't overcome the drain of regular overdraft fees.

Remember, you and your bank share one common objective: to turn a profit. Make sure you're doing all you can to keep returns on good bank rates, and be the one who reaches that goal first.

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