Your bank is the cornerstone of your financial structure. Most people route their paychecks, bills, and keep their savings in a bank. That's why it's extremely important to do your research and find out ways to get more from your bank!
Find A Better Savings Account
Online Savings Accounts
It's no secret that savings accounts make very little interest on the money that you deposit in them. A much better alternative to a traditional savings account at a traditional bank, is an online savings account.
The average traditional savings account makes approximately .2% interest. Compare that to an online bank account with an average of 3%. That means you'll be making 15 times the money in interest in an online savings account.
If you want to find an awesome online savings account, go to Bankrate.com and select "100 highest MMAs". Make sure the online account is FDIC insured.
Credit Union Savings Accounts
Another option for getting more out of your savings account, is to go with a credit union. Some credit unions have up to 7% interest rates on their savings account. That's comparable with the money you'll make in the stock market.
That being said, most of these high interest savings accounts at credit unions will only give you 7% interest on a predetermined amount of money. A common cutoff is $500. So you'll be making 7% interest on the first $500. Just remember to read the fine print!
If you want to learn more about credit unions, read more about them on NerdWallet.
Overdraft Protection Charges
Unless you opt out of the "courtesy overdraft protection" program at your bank, you may have to pay up to $39 every time your checking account gets overdraft-ed. This is extremely relevant for college students with low budgets! Sometimes you're hoping and praying that you have money when you swipe your debit card.
Instead of opting into the overdraft protection, link your checking account to your savings or credit-card account. This will prevent you from paying the overdraft charge AND you'll always know you have money to pull from if you're in a pinch.
Bank ATM Fees
Make sure you understand where your local bank's ATMs are! The fees to withdraw money from another banks ATM that isn't connected to your own have grown year after year. Some are as much as $4 to withdraw YOUR money.
Many banks have maps that show exactly where their ATMs are in your town, and an additional list of 3rd party ATMs that they use across the country. Do your research before you go on vacation, or adventure to a different town. Know the ATM spots, and don't pay those pesky fees to withdraw your money.
Banks, just to take more of your money, have established minimum balance fees. Essentially you have to keep a certain amount of money in your account at all times, or you will be charged a hefty fee! It's like a pre-overdraft fee that prevents you from getting anywhere close to overdrafting your account.
You don't need overdraft protection if you link your checking account with your savings/credit card account, and you certainly don't need to be charged for not having enough money in your account. Once again, make sure you read the fine print and ask your bank about these fees before you set up your account!
The main point we're trying to make is that you need to discuss the fees and requirements of banking with a certain organization. Reading the fine print, asking questions, and doing your own independent research will help you choose the right bank for you. Once you've established that healthy relationship, you'll find that your money starts working for you, instead of the other way 'round.
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