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How to avoid needless bank fees

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Don't make this costly mistake.

Nov. 5, 2018

You need some cash and you need it right now. Chances are there’s an ATM nearby, but is that cash machine part of your bank or credit union’s network?

If not, expect to pay for the convenience.

“ATM withdrawals are a lot like health insurance, you've got to stay in network. Go out of network and it's going to cost you,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “When you go outside the ATM network you're going to typically pay both the ATM owner and your own bank a fee for doing so. Together those fees can easily add up to $5 or more and takes a big chunk out of that $50 withdrawal you might be making.”

These ATM fees are completely avoidable. Plan for where and when you make a cash withdrawal, so you can stay in-network.

If you’re away from home, go to your bank’s website and find the nearest in-network machine.

If you're really in a pinch for cash and there's not an in-network ATM nearby, go to a store and get cash back at the point of sale when you use your debit card. That's essentially a free withdrawal.

Overdrawing your checking account is a costly mistake

The average national overdraft fee right now is $33.23 – the second highest on record, according to Bankrate. It’s currently $32.10 in Seattle.

Avoiding an overdraft penalty is simple: Make sure the available balance in your checking account is enough to cover that payment (by check or debit card) or ATM withdrawal.

We all make mistakes, but one way to limit the damage is to link your checking account and your savings account. That way, if you do slip up, the transactions will be covered.

Fees for such transfers are typically $10 or less. That sure beats paying $32 for an an overdraft charge.

More Info: How to avoid these common bank fees

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