How to Avoid Paying a Monthly Maintenance Fee When Banking

Monthly Maintenance Fee

The majority of Americans have several bank accounts. Savings and checking accounts as the most common kinds of accounts. In fact, it’s very difficult to get by without them.

Given that, you’d expect that most banks would view the money that people deposit as a fair exchange for maintaining those accounts. You’d be wrong.

Many banks charge a monthly maintenance fee which averages around $14 a month just for having a checking account with them. If you’re wondering what that fee is and how to avoid it, keep reading for a breakdown of what you can do.

What Are Monthly Maintenance Fees?

A monthly maintenance or bank fee is money that the bank charges you, often for failure to meet a specific requirement. For example, a bank may charge you a maintenance fee if your account balance drops below a certain threshold amount.

With that key piece of information covered, let’s dig into ways you can avoid them.

Meet the Requirements

If you already have banking services with a bank that you like, the simplest way you can avoid the fee is by meeting the requirement. Of course, that’s a task that is often easier talked about than accomplished.

In many cases, it requires some strict budgeting to make sure you can keep enough in your checking account to meet the minimum acceptable level.

Fee Waiver

Some banks have specific rules in place to waive the monthly fee for customers. If you fall into a specific age group, for example, the bank will often waive the fees. In other cases, they’ll waive the fee if you get your paycheck direct deposited into your account.

You can also ask your bank to waive the fees. If you’re a long-term customer with a record of responsible banking, they’ll often do it just to keep you a happy customer.

Change Institutions

One of your other options is a change in the banking service you use. Some banks do not charge monthly fees at all. You should also consider the credit unions vs. banks question.

Credit unions almost never charge those monthly fees. As a bonus, they’re member-owned. That means they typically do a lot more to look out for you than a bank that must appease shareholders.

A variation on the changing institution approach is for you to open a standalone checking account at a bank that doesn’t charge fees. That lets you avoid the fee, but keep the rest of your banking at a place you already like and trust.

Avoiding the Monthly Maintenance Fee

Many customers consider a monthly maintenance fee little more than getting gouged by their own banks. The good news is that you can avoid those fees.

You can decide that you’ll just meet the bank’s requirements. You may qualify for a fee waiver. You can also ask for a waiver based on your good relationship with the bank.

The nuclear option is for you to change banks entirely or move your checking account to a bank or credit union that doesn’t charge maintenance fees.

Looking for more personal finance tips? Check out our Finance section for more posts.