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If You Pay to Bank, Here's Ways to Bank For Free

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: September 8, 2017

Think free banking is hard to find these days? Not according to a survey conducted by the American Bankers Association. They found the majority of Americans — 61 percent — pay nothing at all for bank services such as checking account maintenance and ATM access. Most bank customers (72 percent) spend $3 or less in monthly fees. If you are paying to bank, learn how to eliminate banking fees and bank for free.

Get The Best Deals

How do you normally choose your bank? The one with a branch closest to your house? The one your best friend uses? The one you’ve been using since you opened your first account as a teenager? If you answered yes to any one of these questions, it’s time to shop around.

Big banks (e.g., Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America) have higher fees than smaller community banks and credit unions, or online banks. That’s not to say you cannot find free banking at big banks across the board. It just means you need to shop around for the best deal.

Sign Up for Direct Deposit

Many checking accounts are free when your paycheck or benefits check is automatically deposited each month into your account. What is even better than the free checking account is the fact your money will be available immediately. No waiting for a check to clear — which could take upwards to 5 business days.

Keep a Minimum Balance and Multiple Accounts 

Just about every bank will offer you a free checking account if you keep a minimum balance in a savings account. Doing this helps avoid monthly fees and accidental overdrafts by linking your checking and savings accounts together. What is even better is to set up a monthly transfer of funds from your checking into your savings. This is a great way to start to save up a nest egg or a small emergency fund.

Use Only Your Bank's ATMs

This is biggest reason for bank fees is using an ATM from a bank that is not affiliated with your bank. If you can, avoid using ATMs not owned by or affiliated with your bank. If you do have to use an ATM from another bank, take out enough so that you will not have to go back and use it again. Prime example of this is when you are on vacation. You might not be able to find an ATM which is affiliated with your bank. If so, take out a large enough sum so you won't have to go back multiple times.

Sign Up for Email or Text Alerts

Keeping track of transactions and account balances will help you avoid bounced checks and overdraft fees. This can be easily done now-a-days using your smart phone. You can easily download your banks app on to your phone and from there you set up email and text alerts. You can also set up reminders to pay bills or transfer money through your bank's app. If you are not technology savvy, we are sure a banking associate will be more than happy to walk you through setting it up.

Read the Notices You Receive From Your Bank

What’s free today may not be so tomorrow. Fortunately, your bank is legally required to let you know if and when they make changes to your account. So don’t toss or delete notices from your bank without taking the time to read them. If the rules have changed outside of your comfort zone, give your bank a call to see about other options and/or start shopping around again for a new bank altogether.

Using one or more of the above tips will ensure you will never have to pay banking fees again. Join the thousands of smart people who know how to bank for free and avoid bank fees.