Save and Invest

Stop paying egregious fees and find a better bank account


CNBC Make It is posting a new financial task to tackle each day for a month. These are all meant to be simple, time-sensitive activities to take your mind off of the news for a moment and, hopefully, put you on sturdier financial footing. This is day 18 of 30.

Bank account fees keep climbing. The average monthly service fee for an interest-bearing checking account reached $15 in 2019 according to Bankrate, while non-interest-bearing accounts averaged $5.61, higher than in 2018. Overdraft fees, minimum deposits and ATM fees were also higher on average in 2019 than the year before.

But that doesn't mean you have to settle for paying for a bank account. There are plenty of options without any monthly service fees at all, and more leniency with other types of charges. Today, open a better bank account.

That could be as simple as opening a high-yield savings account, which pays more interest on your savings than the average bank account. Many of these online accounts have no monthly service fees, no minimum deposits and will reimburse you for other costs, like out-of-network ATM surcharges. Online checking accounts also typically offer lower fees.

Currently, the most competitive interest rate is 1.7% for HSBC's savings account, according to, which tracks more than 60 savings accounts. HSBC's online checking account also comes with no monthly maintenance fees.

You could also search for a bank account offering an opening bonus. Many banks, including Chase and PNC are offering as much as $300 to new account holders. Check personal finance websites Bankrate and NerdWallet, which keep lists of the best deals each month.

That said, accounts offering a bonus typically have higher minimum account requirements to waive service fees. Chase's Premier Plus Checking, for example, offers $300 to new account holders but stipulates you keep a $15,000 daily balance to waive the $25-a-month service fee. Make sure to read the fine print on the account before opening it.

Of course, you should do your homework before applying for any financial product, including bank accounts. Check for: minimum deposit requirements, monthly maintenance fees, ATM coverage and reimbursement, overdraft protection, etc. You don't want to trade one type of fee for the other.

You don't need to leave your house to open an account — you can do so from a bank's website. You will need to provide basic information, including your name, address, birthdate (you must be 18 or older), Social Security number in most cases and phone number. You will also likely need to provide a valid driver's license or some other form of government ID in order for the bank to verify your identity. 

Don't miss the last five days: 

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How a 31-year-old making $118,000 in Philadelphia spends his money
How a 31-year-old making $118,000 in Philadelphia spends his money