Check your statement: Bank and credit fees could cost you more than you expect

Have you read our article on how to save money on investment fees? If not, you should check it out.

Believe it or not, you can save a lot on banking and credit card fees, as well. Remember: Any money you save on these fees can be applied to saving for retirement.

Here are some examples to look out for:

Account Closing Fee

Believe it or not, your bank will likely charge you a fee to close your account. The typical fee is $25 or more. If you need to close your account — because you’re moving to a new location or dislike the bank’s service — and want to avoid the fee, close it in person. Ask to speak with a manager, who may be willing to waive the fee in order to avoid damage to the bank’s reputation. After all, the bank does not want you to share your bad experience with your friends.

ATM Fees

It may not seem like a lot, but you’re charged ATM fees whenever you use one outside your bank’s network. Fees can range from $2 to $4 or more, depending on the bank and location. If you make two out-of-network withdrawals per week, ATM fees could easily top $200 in a year. Always make it a point to use ATMs sponsored by your bank or handle transactions at a bank branch. If you don’t have locations near you, consider changing banks.

Increased credit card interest rates

You may think you know the interest rates on your credit cards.  However, credit card companies can increase the rates on your cards at almost any time.

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act makes it impossible for credit card companies to increase the interest rates on your existing card balances as long as you make payments on time. However, if you miss two consecutive payments, they can raise the interest rate on your existing balance. In addition, the act does not prevent them from increasing interest rates on your future purchases at any time and for no reason.

That means even though you did your due diligence and selected a credit card with a reasonable interest rate, nothing stops the company from upping that rate on future purchases.

Always pay attention to when your credit card bills are due so you don’t miss payments. Set up calendar alerts to remind you. Or sign-up for automatic payments.

Tip: Read all the mail you receive from your credit card company. Something that looks like a legal document or junk mail could actually be an alert that your interest rates are going up.

Foreign travel fees

Do you travel outside the United States?

Credit cards make purchasing things when you travel abroad easy and convenient.  You don’t have to carry cash or deal with complicated exchange rates. But most people aren’t aware that they can get hit with foreign transaction fees when they use their cards outside the U.S. These fees can go as high as three percent or more, which can add up over the course of a trip.

Check whether your card charges these fees before you travel outside the U.S. If it does, find another card to use when you travel abroad.

Interest

Of course, the biggest and most common “fee” charged by banks and credit card companies is interest. Interest is the money you pay for the privilege of borrowing money. Interest rates vary depending on the type of loan.

  • Mortgages have the lowest rates, typically between 2 and 4 percent. The rate is dependent on the length of the loan, type and location of property, your credit history and other factors. If you’re paying significantly more than this, find a lower-rate mortgage. It will reduce your monthly payments which will give you more money to set aside for retirement. Plus, you’ll be able to pay your mortgage off faster, which will make a big difference after you retire.
  • Home equity lines have slightly higher interest rates than mortgages. If you qualify for a low-interest home equity line, consider using it to pay off higher interest credit card debt. Again, lower monthly interest payments will give you more to save for retirement. Plus, you’ll be able to pay off your debts faster. Another plus: You can write the interest from a home equity line off your taxes. This is something you can’t do with credit card interest.
  • Personal and business loans have a wide range of interest rates because so many factors go into determining them, including credit-worthiness, whether the loan is backed with collateral and more. Typical rates range between 6 and 10 percent.
  • Credit cards come with the highest interest rates, which can range from 10 to 20 percent or more depending on creditworthiness, features offered by the card and other factors. One of the most important steps you can take to find more money to save for retirement is to pay off high interest credit cards and use cards, when necessary, with lower rates. If there is one fee-reduction strategy you pursue to find more to save for retirement, this is it!

Lost card fee

This is a small fee, but an easy one to avoid. Most banks charge between $5 and $20 to replace a lost bank card. However, studies show that most banks will waive it if you complain. Every little bit counts when it comes to saving for retirement.

Maintenance fees

Most bank accounts charge a monthly maintenance fee. They typically range from $5 to $20 per month. That may not seem like a lot, but a monthly $10 fee adds up to $120 per year.

This is a fee that’s relatively easy to avoid paying. If you find a maintenance fee on your monthly statement, contact your bank to discuss how to get it waived. Sometimes complaining will be enough to get it removed. Other banks will eliminate it if you meet certain requirements, such as maintaining a minimum balance or transferring your money to a different type of account.

Overdraft fees

This is a really big fee that’s easy to avoid. Typical overdrafts run between $30 and $40 and can add-up fast. They’re charged whenever a request for cash comes in after your account balance falls below zero. This can happen because you spend too much, withdraw too much money or incorrectly time your deposits and automatic payments.

How do you avoid this? Consistently monitor your accounts online. Be careful about your spending, pay attention to your balance and watch when money is entering and leaving your account.

Zero percent balance transfer

Have you ever received a zero percent balance transfer offer? Seems like a good deal, right? You receive a low or no-interest rate loan when you transfer balances from other higher-interest cards into a new lower-interest one. What most people don’t realize is that new purchases charged on these cards could come with very high interest rates.

Read all the fine print that comes with balance transfer offers. Make sure you know what you’re getting into and what it will cost.

Zero percent interest

Zero percent interest isn’t a fee, but it could turn into a big and surprising one if you are not careful.

People love free things. Marketers know that people are much more likely to respond to offers that uses terms like “free” and “zero percent interest.”

But be aware: Not all zero percent offers are legit.

Some credit cards, especially those offered by retailers when you make a purchase, offer zero percent financing for in-store purchases. However, if you do not pay off the balance by the end of the promotional period, you could be charged interest retroactively and at very high rates.

There are times when zero percent financing is a good deal. Read the terms carefully and understand if interest is actually being waived, or if the company is just deferring it to a later date. No matter, always plan to pay-off the purchase during the stated promotional period. Otherwise, it could end up costing you a lot.

Next steps

Can you see how easy it could be to find additional money to save for retirement simply by reviewing your bank and credit card statements and taking steps to reduce fees?

If you’re looking for an addition sources of money for retirement, consider starting an online business. It’s an easy way to earn additional income that you can use exclusively for retirement. You work when and how often you want and you have complete control over how much you earn.

You can start the business prior to retirement and continue working at it long after you retire. Getting started is easy. What are you waiting for? Learn more today!

If you liked this article, then you might also like these:

Think You’re Saving Money? You’re Probably Losing It.

Read the fine print: It can help you save more for retirement

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