Earlier this year, major banks backed off plans to charge customers for using their debit cards. Now they're looking for ways to recoup those transaction fee losses.
Among the fees already proposed or in place are penalties for not maintaining a minimum balance.
"I see overdraft charges as a problem for all income brackets for not maintaining enough cash in their bank account so boosting your cash reserves may also help you avoid these fees," says financial planner Susan Elser.
The best way to see if your bank is charging you any type of fee is read your statement carefully.
"It's important to be reviewing your bank statements or any literature you're receiving from your bank so that you can see notification ahead of time and change your habits or change your bank," says Angie Hicks of Angie's List.
Here are seven other tips from Angie's List to help you avoid bank fees:
· Go paperless: Some banks charge a fee to send a statement in the mail.
· Set up an alert: Sign up for email or text alert that will notify you if you are about to fall below a balance threshold or incur a penalty fee.
· Non-sufficient funds (NSF): Keep track of your transactions to avoid overdrawing from your account. Banks have made it easy by allowing consumers to access their account online. Some even offer mobile banking on cell phones.
· Beware of ATM fees: Use only ATM's in your network or a bank that reimburses ATM fees. Some retailers also allow you to select cash back when you make purchases.
· Direct deposit enrollment: Most checking accounts are free when you enroll in direct deposit.
· Maintaining a minimum balance: Some accounts require a minimum balance. Know what your minimum balance is and maintain that to avoid paying a fee.
· Find a new financial institution: If you are not happy with your bank, it's best to shop around to find a new one.
If you choose to find another financial institution , determine what your needs are first. Ask yourself about your financial goals, do you want free checking or convenient ATMs?
Remember to shop around and compare fees, services and bank locations.
"You want to first discuss with whatever institution you are looking at switching to, what you are going to do to avoid fees there," says Elser. "Some credit unions and online banks may have either lower fees or reduced required minimum balances. I do think that having cash emergency reserves helps an awful lot of people avoid a number of problems and it's turning out that this may also help you avoid bank fees."
Once you choose your new bank or credit union, remember to keep your old account open for a few weeks. It's important all your transaction fees have cleared in your existing account.