How to bank on the cheap
If you have free checking, take a closer look at your statement. You might discover that your account is actually costing you money.
Last year, consumers paid a whopping $34 billion in checking fees. Nearly 30 percent of consumers admitted to overdrawing their accounts during a two-year period, and 10 percent said they had at least four overdrafts during the two years, according to Raddon Financial Group, which tracks banking behaviors.
Read the fine print: Check the bank's fee schedule — online or at a branch — and crunch the numbers for a typical month before opening an account at any bank.
Choose wisely: “You need to think about what you will use the account for and what you want in the way of bank services,” said Diana Scavone, senior vice president of PNC Bank's tricounty regional area, which includes Pennsylvania.
The best way to understand just what you are getting in return for depositing your money in a particular bank is to go into the bank and talk to a customer service representative. If the bank offers free checking, for example, a better choice might be an account with a monthly minimum.
Some banks offer specialized free accounts. The account holder doesn't have to keep a minimum balance, but monthly limits on checks and transactions at non-bank ATMs might be a requirement. PNC, for example, offers virtual wallet accounts for adults and students, and both are free accounts if you don't go over the limits on check writing and ATM withdrawals.
Interest matters: Some checking accounts offer interest, but you may have to play by certain rules, such as using your debit card so many times per month or having direct deposit. Visit kasasa.com to find a bank servicing Pennsylvania which allows distance banking, including online banking, mail deposits and ATM fee refunds.
Other ways to save:
• Using non-bank ATMs can become costly, so, if you travel out of the area often, you might want to find a bank with branches where you travel, or one that reimburses ATM fees.
• Decline overdraft protection. If you have already signed up, you can contact your bank to opt out. Your debit card will be declined if you exceed your balance, but you won't have an overdraft fee.
• Avoid bouncing checks or overdraft fees each month. The $20 to $30 you save by not bouncing a check each month would save you enough money to nearly fully fund a $500 emergency savings account.
• Reduce credit card debt by $1,000. That $1,000 debt reduction will probably save you $150 to $200 a year, and much more if you're paying penalty rates of 20 to 30 percent.
• Make your monthly credit-card payment on time. The $30 to $35 you save by not being charged a late fee each month on one card would save you most of the money you need for $500 in emergency savings.
— Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Authorities release name of Greensburg man who jumped off overpass onto Route 30
- Operating loss widens at Highmark parent
- Pitt football team working to fatten up QB sack total on defense
- Jury deliberating in dispute over origin of Heinz ‘Dip & Squeeze’ ketchup package
- VA, police looking into suicide by veteran outside O’Hara facility
- Penguins a love affair for Evancho sisters
- Ferrante won’t get new trial or conviction overturned
- Starkey: Penguins’ season impressive so far
- Pirates again approach Polanco about contract extension
- Construction to affect Parkway West Thursday, Friday
- Penguins notebook: Flyers’ success in Pittsburgh stems from power play