Fees for your bank account? Avoid them

On Wednesday, The Pew Charitable Trusts came out with the results of a new study on how many households, per state, do not have a checking account. The results are disheartening. While in Washington State 3.9% of households do not have a bank account, in other states those numbers are much worse. I’ve listed just a few here:  California (7.7%), Texas (11.7%) and New York (9.9%).

The study sites the reasons most people give for not maintaining a checking account. Those reasons include service charges, minimum balance requirements and overdraft fees – all understandable reasons for avoiding a checking account.

But did you know that it costs a lot to manage your money without a checking account? Two typical expenses when you do not have a bank or a credit union are check cashing fees and fees for money orders. On average, it costs someone around $800.00 to NOT have a checking account. That is a lot of money given away in the fees you may be trying to avoid.

Is there free checking? The answer is YES. We have all heard the news about new debit fees being imposed by banks, the good news is at least two banks are reversing their decision on debit card fees (Wells Fargo and Chase), and Bank of America has said they may waive fees if you participate in some other program such as direct deposit, maintaining a minimum balance, etc.

When you are searching for a bank or credit union, you have to be willing to shop around. Check local banks and credit unions. Credit unions are member owned, have many of the same services banks do such as online banking, bill pay, apps for phones, and they often have networks which allow you to use the ATM’s of other credit unions without being charged a fee.

We do have options when it comes to selecting a bank or credit union. Take the time to find out what is available in your community. Protect and save your money!