When people look for ways to cut back on their spending and get their budget in better order, rarely do they look at every option for saving money available to them. Most will cut out daily spending like morning coffees or gym memberships in order to save a buck. Rarely do they turn to the one place where money matters are obvious – their bank. Checking accounts and savings accounts are costing customers must more than they may realize.
While the ever-changing rates and fees going on inside banks across the country, your bank should be one of the first places you look when trying to save more money. Since the regulations against banking practices have challenged bank’s profit margins, banks are finding loopholes to charge you more and you may not even know it. Your bank fees may be higher and you may now being paying for services that have always been free in the past. If you are not paying attention, the place where you keep your money safe may be costing you more than you can afford.
Here are some important considerations to make when it comes to evaluating your current bank:
Check Your Statements
Whether you bank exclusively online or receive monthly statements, you need to review the details of your account and look for any new charges or fees you didn’t know you were paying. For instance, your one time free checking account may no longer be free. If you have difficulties figuring out fees and changes, schedule an appointment at your bank to discuss your account.
Compare Other Offers
Many local banks and credit unions are advertising incentives customers may not be able to get from bigger banks. Check out the ads in the newspapers, television, and radio to see if any new incentives make sense for your financial life. Compare bank rates online for checking and saving accounts, cd rates, and other financial services and keep your notes.
If you find better offers elsewhere, don’t make a switch until you’ve spoken with your bank first. If you are a long-time, loyal customer your current bank may be willing to negotiate your current account offerings and waive some of the new fees in order to keep you as a customer. They are not obligated to negotiate with you but it may be worth it to avoid the bank switch process. If they refuse to compete with other offers, get serious about switching your banks and consider another bank with more offerings at more reasonable fees.
When you decide to go with another bank, it is important to go through the process carefully to ensure there are no loose ends left hanging. Specially, note any accounts which are paid automatically from your account each month and notify your creditor of the change in bank information in advance. If you have direct deposit of your payroll check, you’ll need to complete paperwork with your employer to change the bank details so your pay is not interrupted. Any debit cards associated with the account which are stored for online payments will need to be changed once your new account has been established. You’ll need to open your new account but keep your old account active until the transition is complete. Otherwise you risk bouncing checks, paying overdraft fees, and having late or missed creditor payments.
It can be difficult to transfer from one bank to another but if it will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the course of the year, changing banks may be well worth your time. Review your bank statements periodically moving forward to ensure you are aware of all account changes that affect your financial life directly.
Tisha Tolar is a financial writer for MyBankTracker.com, a site that helps consumers compare savings accounts, CD rates, and home equity loans to make informed banking decisions and save money.