Banks are supposed to be places to save money, and for the most part, they are. But for those who aren’t paying attention, there are many ways that banks actually cost you some of those hard-earned bucks. From hidden fees to misleading interest rates, beware of these ways that your bank may be costing you money.
The most obvious of the fees, ATMs charge you anywhere from $0.50 to $5 just for the right to take your own money out. You can avoid these fees by using the ATMs that are at your own bank, or by finding certain places that will refund them. They’re rare, but they do exist!
Extra services fees
Need a money order? That’ll be $2.50. How about a cashier’s check? That’ll be $10. How about opening an account? Or dipping below the minimum balance? Get ready to cough up hundreds of dollars for those crimes. Read the fine print before you commit your money somewhere.
Most banks will let you overdraft by default – you need to visit the bank to intentionally disable this feature so you won’t be able to take out more money than you have available. In this way, banks can fine you for something that you didn’t even realize you were able to do.
Really, all manner of fees that you could possibly imagine
You can even get charged a fees to increase your credit card limit, something that is supposed to be guaranteed after a certain number of months or transactions. You could write a dissertation just on the number of hidden fees that banks have.
Teaser interest rates
Oftentimes, if your bank lends you money, you’ll get a great low interest rate to pay it back. But the fine print makes it clear that you’ll only receive that rate for the first few payments, after which it’ll skyrocket, costing you hundreds of dollars. They’ll get you with the seemingly good deal, only to have it disappear before long.
Appropriating your payments where they want
If you have multiple loans or debts with one place, you can’t control where your payments go. Meaning your bank can appropriate your payment to the debt with the lower interest rate – definitely not where you’d prefer it. You’ll still owe more on the bigger debts with higher interest rates, so they can collect more on it while you find the money.
You thought you just had to worry about your own checks bouncing! Silly you, banks can actually charge you for “returned deposits,” or a check bouncing that was being deposited into your account. Meaning your unemployed roommate’s rent check, Grandma’s birthday check from an account she didn’t realize had closed, and your shady employer’s paycheck are all going to cost you if you try to – *gasp* – deposit them.
Tired of using online services? Doesn’t matter, because some banks will charge you a fee to speak with a person on the phone or even at a bank counter. Customer service at its finest.
Currency conversion is always tricky (especially since the rates can change as you walk from one side of the bank to the other), but you can get screwed getting foreign currency, and then again trying to convert it back. Most banks will charge a fee to do it anyway, so make sure you only convert exactly what you need. Or just go on a souvenir spree your last day of a trip.
Charging you for trying to get the hell out of there
You’ve finally had it with your bank, and you’re trying to get your money out of there to move it elsewhere. Get ready for a parting gift, because most banks will charge you to close an account, especially if it’s been less than six months or so. Fun stuff.