How do I Avoid Checking Account Fees?

Felicia Dye

Avoid checking account fees by getting a free checking account. Do not opt in to overdraft protection programs and resist the urge to write checks when you do not have the funds. You can also prevent paying checking account fees by respecting the stipulations of your account, such as minimum balances and transaction restrictions.


One of the best ways to avoid fees is by getting a free checking account. If you do not currently have a checking account and you plan to open one soon, make sure there are no monthly charges. If you already have an account and you are paying monthly checking account fees, you should consider opening a new account even if that means changing banks.

Some banks offer free checking accounts, which do not incur a monthly service charge.
Some banks offer free checking accounts, which do not incur a monthly service charge.

Also, if you sign up for an account that restricts you to a certain number of transactions before you begin paying bank fees, make sure you do not exceed that limit. For example, some accounts limit the number of times per month an account holder can interact with a teller. Paying checking account fees in such a situation can be avoided if you make plans to conduct bulk transactions.

If you have a minimum balance requirement, respect it by keeping a sufficient amount of money in your account. The best option is to try to avoid accounts that will charge you when your balance drops below a certain level. Many people get lured into opening these types of accounts because of the potential to earn interest. The amount of interest that is earned, however, generally is not worth the risk for people whose balances tend to linger near the threshold.

In 2010, in the United States (US) a federal law passed that prevents banks from providing people with overdraft protection for ATM and debit card purchases if they have not signed up for it. If you do not opt in to these programs, you will simply have your transactions declined if there are insufficient funds in your account. The positive factor in this situation is that you will not be charged anything, which can save you significant amounts of money. You need to be careful, however, not to overdraw your account with checks. The law will not cover you for this type of overdraft and you are likely to be charged.

Do not enter into transactions with others that could result in you paying checking account fees. This means you need to avoid depositing checks from people who may not have sufficient funds in their accounts. Also, if your bank will charge you for services such as accepting electronic funds transfers (EFTs), find alternatives.

When you need cash, use your bank's ATM. This may require some advance planning if your account is held with a financial institution that has only a few branches. That slight inconvenience, however, can save you a lot of money in checking account fees in the long term. Also, if you use your debit card to make purchases, avoid using cash back options that involves fees for doing so.

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