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How to MINIMIZE your banking fees


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Few things in life (that are of value) are free. Here are some things that are FREE (or at least cheap) in life:

- the toy in the cracker jack box

- Free samples at Costco

- the toys included in Happy Meals

- regular TV channels

- dial-up internet

Imagine the quality of service the above things give you. Are you SURE you want free checking? This is your money we're talking about.

I think the real key question is:

"How much are we willing to pay for the QUALITY of services that are provided to you?"

"Am I really in the right account for me to help me minimize my fees?"

"Would one fee be justified to help me save money on other fees?"

Now, I'm not saying you need to pay $20 per month in bank fees to have a quality account. I just want to put things in perspective. Remember, you get out of it what you put into it.

There are 5 main things your banking relationship should give you:

1) Convenience

2) Peace of Mind

3) Earn you money

4) Save you money

5) Save you TIME

Types of Fees

- Monthly Service Fees (fee to just have an account)

- Online banking fees (to manage your account online)

- BillPay fees (to pay your bills online)

- ATM fees (to withdraw cash)

- Teller Transaction fees (to do a transaction with a real person)

- Live Customer Service Phone fee (to talk to a real person in customer service)

- Cashier's check & Money Order fees (to get a certified bank check)

- Overdraft fees / Returned Item Fees (when you write a check or make a purchase and you don't have enough funds)

- Check order fees

- Checks returned with Statement fees

If I were to add up these fees for a one month (or one time charge) for a Wells Fargo account, it would be: $41.95 ($5 MSF, $6.95 Billpay, $2 phone fee, $8 cashier check fee, $17.50 check order fees, $2.50 checks with statement fee). Could it be worth it to pay only $14 per month and get everything included for free?


The largest banks offer the most services, locations, ATM's and other features for CONVENIENCE, Peace of mind and to save you TIME.

This is probably the best place for your money if:

- you have to travel and this bank is where you travel at frequently

- you have more than $10,000 relationship in any combination of checking, savings & CD's. This will help you be in the right checking account.

Community Banks and Savings & Loans

I'm not much of an expert with these, but it is my understanding that they focus on acquiring their customers to have home loans and checking accounts. Locations are more limited.

IMHO, this would be your best place for your banking if:

- you have your home loan through them.

- you live or work across the street from them, therefore: most convenient.

Credit Unions

My favorite place to bank (even though I work for a large national bank myself). Even as a team member, I still want "employment proof" banking. My banking benefits end when I leave my company. Which means that I'd have to pay these fees myself, or find a different place to do my banking.

I don't have $10k+ to put on deposit at a bank, so I like to bank with my credit union.

The biggest drawback on a credit union: LOCATIONS. You can't find a credit union branch on every corner like you can with a bank.

The BEST advantage for banking with a credit union: NO (or reduced) FEES!

You can usually open a FREE checking account with FREE billpay and online banking. You can get your 1st box of checks for FREE. You can talk to live people for FREE. Your money orders & cashier's checks are usually 1 FREE per day, or it's less than $5 for each one (not too bad). The savings account is STANDARD and has no fees of its own. It also will have a higher interest rate than most banks will offer you (even if you had $100k in an FDIC insured account).

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