5 Ways to Avoid Overdraft Fees

What?!?

How did this happen to you…again?

You were certain you had enough money in your checking account to make that purchase. Unfortunately, you forgot about that automatic car insurance payment that came through yesterday and brought your available balance down lower than you thought.

Now, you’re stuck with yet another overdraft fee — not something you appreciate much when you’re already having a hard time making ends meet.

Only a kind-hearted customer service rep at the bank can save you now from that fee. However, there are many ways that you can avoid more of these fees in the future.

Check out these 5 ways to avoid overdraft fees.

1. Decline Overdraft Protection

This might sound backwards, but you read that right. Overdraft protection programs allow you to swipe your debit card for a purchase that will overdraw your account. So if you have $25 in your account and buy something for $50, the bank will loan you the extra $25 — and slap you with an overdraft fee in the ballpark of $35. Average overdraft fees in 2020 were $33.47 according to Bankrate.

What’s more, you might not even know that you overdrew your account. Plus, you can rack up multiple overdraft fees if you make multiple purchases before you realize what has happened.

So, overdraft protection saves you the embarrassment of not having money at the checkout counter, but the cost may not be worth it.

2. Set a Low-Balance Alert

You can set up alerts with your bank, so you’ll receive an email or text when certain things happen. For example, you can be notified when your account balance drops below a certain dollar amount.

3. Monitor Your Account

Even with a low-balance alert set up, you should still keep an eye on your account. It’s still possible to overdraw, particularly when making a large purchase. For example, you might have arranged to be notified when your account balance drops below $200. But if you buy something for $250 and have $225 in the bank, you’ll still overdraw.

Additionally, you might not have noticed when the alert came through. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of checking your account regularly, particularly before making a large purchase.

4. Use a Credit Card

Another way to avoid overdraft fees is to not use your debit card for purchases. You can use a credit card instead. As a bonus, you can make money in rewards for each purchase if you choose a card with these benefits.

However, we mention this strategy with a caveat. Monitor your purchases and ensure that you can pay off your entire credit card balance each month. This allows you to enjoy the rewards of using a credit card without being saddled with a bunch of unneeded credit card debt.

5. Find a Bank That Doesn’t Charge Overdraft Fees

Newer competition is in the market and there are some banks that don’t charge overdraft fees. These tend to be online banks that have a smaller overhead and don’t have to charge their customers as many fees to make money. Additionally, the interest they pay on savings accounts may be higher — another benefit.

Another possibility to check out is your local credit union. Some are restrictive about who can join, but many pay higher interest and charge fewer fees. All it takes is a bit of research.

Stay Free from Overdraft Fees

Nobody wants to find out they’ll have to pay a hefty fee for a small oversight. Thankfully, by following these 5 tips to avoiding overdraft fees, you can stay overdraft fee-free and enjoy keeping your money where it belongs — in your bank account.

Should we be Using Mobile Banking?

Our smartphones have revolutionized the way we live our lives. They have become integral to communication, to organization, and now to banking. Mobile banking applications are becoming increasingly popular and are slowly but surely overtaking more conventional means of making financial transactions.

Acknowledging the fact that convenience is a key selling point, most major commercial bank offer the capacity to send money and make deposits using a mobile app. Bank of America has stated that more of their customers use their mobile banking platform than their online banking service and the technology is improving daily. Mobile phones can now even be used as contactless credit cards using near-field communication (NFC) technology. This means that PIN numbers and debit cards might one day become a thing of the past.

All of this advancement sounds incredible, yet there are often downsides to every innovation. So how do the benefits of mobile phone banking stack up against these drawbacks? And are we increasingly becoming reliant on technology that we don’t even fully understand?

Mobile banking is easy to set up

Getting started with mobile banking is easy and straightforward for those familiar with technology and mobile apps. With just a few swipes of your finger, you can get your mobile banking set up and running. You simply use your existing internet banking details and then everything is available to you at the touch of a button. The majority of banks even offer a customer service line that you can contact at any hour of the day.

Mobile banking saves a lot of time

There is no denying that mobile banking saves a considerable amount of time. Gone are the days when we used to waste what seemed like hours lining up to be served by a cashier at the bank. With mobile banking, you can check account balances, send and receive payments, schedule transactions, and transfer money at a moment’s notice from any location.

Mobile banking is unarguably convenient

Last year, research from the US Federal Reserve revealed that 87% of US adults own a mobile phone, and 71% of these mobile phones are internet-enabled smartphones. This was a 10% increase from 2014. This same research showed that 39% of adults with mobile phones used them for banking. This data demonstrates both the growing reliance on mobile phone technology and the increasing willingness of people to use mobile banking due to how conveniently it works in their modern lives.

People are wary of security risks

One major concern surrounding mobile banking is that of security. Smartphones are such a large part of our lives that we often forget how new the technology is and how badly things could go wrong if security was breached. There are risks with any banking method you choose, but there are steps that you can put in place to minimize the likelihood of fraud.

Ensure that you have malware software on your smartphone and always certify that the banking app you pick is authentic and not created by fraudsters. Ensure that your phone’s locking mechanism is active and that it requires a PIN, passcode, or fingerprint to open. Set up your phone to lock automatically after a set time. Update your mobile banking app whenever a new version becomes available. All of this should make it more difficult for hackers to reverse-engineer viruses or to find weak points in security. Out-of-date banking applications are much more vulnerable to attacks. Having said this, in many ways mobile banking beat out traditional security measures such as PIN codes and signatures. It is much easier to fake someone’s signature than to steal their phone.

Beware of impulse overspending

With enthusiasm and innovative new mobile technology comes the temptation to spend especially when access to our own money is so easy. Regardless of how inviting it might be to take to the internet and spoil yourself with an impulse buy, it is best to reign in this behavior. New research shows how mobile banking apps are causing young people (aged 18 to 34) to be far too willing to embrace compulsive spending with the impulse spending of this age group being double that of those aged 55 and over.

 

Reckless spending and lack of control can easily send you down a debt spiral. If this occurs, consult an expert in debt management. These professionals have access to innovative insolvency software, which can help track your incomings and outgoings and calculate payment plans, thereby getting you back on sturdy financial ground.