There's a good chance you're overpaying your bank. The average household spends about $290 a year in bank fees, including ATM fees for simply accessing cash, a figure that shocked six in 10 respondents in one survey.
A separate analysis from NerdWallet found that typical checking account fees — maintenance fees, ATM fees, and overdraft fees — adds up to about $1,000 over the course of a decade, nearly $10 a month. If you incur even a single overdraft fee, median $27 a pop, your fees are going to be even higher.
Eliminating these costs from your life requires thinking about your spending habits. Maintenance fees can typically be avoided, for instance, by keeping a minimum balance above a certain amount: usually around $1,500.
If that's hard for you, you'll want to consider an account with no minimum balance, like the Capital One 360 or the Ally Bank Interest Checkingaccount, both of which get high marks for fees (although lower marks for APY, which is how much interest the account will earn). Capital One's 360 also has a unique overdraft policy — instead of a flat fee, you can opt to pay a reasonable rate of interest on the amount you're overdrawn.
Another option to consider is switching from a bank to a credit union, which generally boast much higher customer satisfaction marks than banks do. The drawback is that they serve highly specific constituencies and it can be hard to find one that you're eligible for. Fees are generally lower in these accounts, as are the interest rates on loans. MyCreditUnion.gov can help you find a credit union in your area that you're qualified for. You should also consider a bank that pays a relatively high yield on savings or checking: Earn 3% interest on $5,000 annually, and that's an extra $12 a month you didn't have before.
Finally, if the toothpaste is out of the tube and you've already incurred charges? It never hurts to phone in and speak to a representative at your bank about having the fee waived.
Potential savings: Between $10 and $50
Taken together, the above savings could be $500 or even more. So take a weekend to think through your options — and start saving right away.
Watch: Boost your emergency savings