How to Avoid Bank Fees

by Francisco Javier ArceoDecember 30, 2019

Just opened a checking or savings account? Great! We’ve talked about these types of bank accounts before (if you haven’t, check out our previous post on it).

Having a bank account is a great way to store your money and even earn some interest but some of these accounts may come with fees.

While it’s usually free to open up a checking or savings account, banks will often charge bank fees. These are typically fees that banks will charge for different things like overdrafts, ATM transactions, account maintenance, or something else.

These fees are a big revenue stream for banks and while some fees make sense, we don’t think banks are doing a good job of making these fees easy to understand. In fact, traditional banks made over $34 billion dollars in overdraft fees in 2017 alone!

The good news is that there are simple ways to avoid getting hit with bank fees so you can get the most out of your checking and savings accounts.

Maintenance Fees

Many banks will charge a monthly maintenance fee for “maintaining” your account. This is basically a service fee but you can avoid it as long as you meet certain requirements, like keeping a minimum amount of money in your account. This fee can range anywhere from $5 to $15 a month, so it’s a good idea to avoid it if you can.

Another way to avoid maintenance fees (instead of keeping the bank’s minimum account balance requirement) is to make a monthly direct deposit of an amount specified by your bank.

Overdraft Fees

Overdraft fees are charges you’ll get from your bank when you try to use or withdraw more money than you have in your checking account. The bank will cover the difference so that you can make your purchase but they’ll charge a fee in addition to making you pay back the amount they covered.

This service is known as overdraft protection, and what most people don’t realize is that you can disable it.

By turning off the overdraft protection feature, your card will be declined if you try to withdraw more money than you have but you can avoid a large overdraft fee (the average overdraft fee was $33 in 2019).

You can also avoid overdraft fees by keeping an eye on your account balance so you never withdraw more money than you have.

Another tip is to link your checking account to your savings account so that if you do need to use overdraft protection, the amount you need will automatically be pulled from your savings account. This still incurs a fee, but it’s much smaller than an overdraft fee.

ATM Fees

When you withdraw money from a foreign ATM or an ATM that isn’t connected to your bank, you’ll be charged an ATM fee for every transaction you make. These fees can be charged by your bank, the company operating the ATM you use, or both.

To avoid paying hefty ATM fees, visit your bank’s website or use your bank’s mobile app to find ATMs and branches near you so you don’t have to resort to using an ATM that isn’t associated with your bank.

Another way to avoid ATM fees is by taking advantage of the cash-back option offered by some grocery stores when you pay with your debit card so you don’t even need to stop at an ATM.


Fees happen, we’ve been there. But now that we know more about bank fees, we can protect ourselves and our wallets.

At Unidos we want to protect your money, so you can protect your loved ones. We want you to get the most out of your bank accounts but we definitely don’t want you to pay unnecessary fees.

Hopefully you feel better equipped with the information you need to avoid them.

Questions? As always, we're here for you, so feel free to contact us if you still have any questions.