Your bank should help make managing your money easier. You can deposit money into your checking account and use those funds to pay bills or cover other costs. And you can put money into savings to help you grow a pot of cash you can use to accomplish financial goals.
Sometimes, though, your bank actually ends up costing you money by charging you fees. And finance expert Dave Ramsey has a warning about one particular sneaky cost that your bank may impose on you.
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Are you being charged this sneaky bank fee?
So, what's the fee Ramsey warned about? It's a monthly fee just for being a customer of that particular bank.
"Maintenance fees are some of the sneakiest," Ramsey warned. "You agree to them when you open an account, and you may not even realize it until they show up on your statement six months later."
As Ramsey explained, these fees fall into two categories: minimum balance fees and inactivity fees. The first is charged if your balance falls below a set minimum amount that your bank sets. And the second is assessed if you don't use your account often enough as defined by the bank.
Ramsey warned that these fees can creep up on you and can be confusing to avoid because of the complex rules banks impose. "Your ability to avoid maintenance fees depends on a few variables, like linking your checking and savings accounts, spending a set amount of money, or keeping a minimum balance in your account. If you fail to meet one of those variables -- bam! Fee!"
How can you avoid monthly maintenance fees?
The good news is, there are ways to avoid being hit with these "sneaky" fees that can end up costing you in the end. Ramsey has some suggestions for doing so. "Get on your guard so you know which fees your specific bank charges," he advised. "Or better yet, find a bank that doesn't charge fees at all."
If you want to avoid the hassle of trying to avoid sneaky maintenance fees, you may want to look into an online bank as these tend to charge less than brick-and-mortar banks. But whatever bank you're considering, you should read the fine print and ask any questions you might have about exactly what fees could be assessed and what you have to do to get fee waivers.
You should also think long term when picking a bank, as closing an account can be a hassle. If a bank waives the fee if you have direct deposit, for example, but you're going to be quitting your job soon to be a stay-at-home parent, then you may not want to open that account because your direct deposits will soon stop and the fees will start.
You should also check your online account regularly and carefully. If your bank starts charging you a surprise fee, as Ramsey warns it might, it's best to catch it early. You can take steps to address the issue leading to the charge before your account is drained and may even be able to ask the bank to refund the fee in some cases.
By heeding Ramsey's warning, you can make sure that putting money into your bank account doesn't end up causing you to have less cash in the end.
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