smart spending

7 effective ways you can tackle high fees

Ask for bank fees to be waived
Ask for bank fees to be waived © Goodluz/Shutterstock.com

Bank fees are rising. "Fees such as inquiry fees, decline fees and customer service fees hardly seem justified. But they are real and legal when disclosed in the terms and conditions," says Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney for Consumers Union, a nonprofit consumer protection organization.

But will you be aware of all of the bank fees? A Pew Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project report titled "Still Risky: An Update on the Safety and Transparency of Checking Accounts" says the median length of checking account disclosure documents, which include fees, is 69 pages.

Consumers also should be wary of the order their bank processes transactions to maximize overdraft fees. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says transactions should be processed in a neutral order.

Getting help

  • Use alerts for bank account balances, payments due, account limits and unusual activity.
  • Call and request a reversal of any suspicious fees. Ask to have it waived at the bank's discretion.
  • If overdraft fees are charged due to the reordering of transactions, mention the FDIC's rule to a bank manager.

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