A checking account is a fundamental building block of healthy finances, but many bank customers are frustrated with the rising cost of banking services. According to the TD Bank Checking Experience Index, a national study conducted by TD Bank and Angus Reid Public Opinion, nearly 60 percent of Americans now associate at least one fee with their primary checking account with the most frustrating costs being ATM fees (38 percent), overdraft fees (27 percent) and minimum balance fees (13 percent).
But consumers don’t need to pay for checking. By making smart choices and using new technologies and resources from banks, account holders can minimize their banking costs and better understand their finances.
Avoid ATM Costs
Non-bank ATM fees accrue when consumers make transactions at ATMs that are not in their own bank’s network. Transactions at non-bank ATMs typically cost between $2 and $4 per transaction. This cost can be avoided with a bit of planning and some simple choices:
- Choose a bank with convenient hours, locations and ATMs. Think about daily routines and habits and choose a bank that is available when and where you need it. If your bank has a store that you pass on the way to work or the gym it will reduce the temptation to use an ATM that’s not affiliated with your financial institution.
- Investigate accounts that reimburse ATM costs. If you know you’ll be using ATMs outside your bank’s network, look for accounts that reimburse these costs. For example, TD Bank’s Premier Checking account offers high-value services including the reimbursement of any ATM fees for customers who keep a minimum balance of $2,500, plus it earns interest and offers free money orders, official bank checks and more.
- Take advantage of features like remote deposit capture and online and mobile banking. In today’s banking world consumers can check balances, deposit checks and find their closest store or ATM through their mobile phones. Instead of looking to an out-of-network ATM to check your balance, use a computer or smartphone. If you don’t have a smartphone, many banks allow you to check your balance by dialing a toll-free number — check the back of your debit card for your bank’s contact information. Some banks even offer 24/7 live phone support.
- Get cash back. Swinging into the supermarket or drugstore? Pay with your debit card and get cash back at to avoid a trip to a non-bank ATM.