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How to Avoid Ever Paying Another Bank Fee


Traditional banks have a reputation for charging customers lots of little fees that add up. Banks make over $43 billion in fees every year. $33 billion of that comes from overdrafts alone! These fees impact everyone but are far more prevalent for minority groups who pay 1.6x to 4.2x more than what non-minorities groups pay. On top of this,  millennials and gen-x’ers pay 4x to 5.3x more than what baby boomers pay in bank fees.

The average person spends more than $300 on bank fees each year.  That’s money that could be saved or put to use in other ways. Bank fees are annoying and customers shouldn’t accept them as the norm. 

Here’s the good news. You can completely avoid paying bank fees, you just need to know-how. We’re here to help with that.

Common Bank Fees and How to Avoid Them 

Whether you choose to open an account online or at a brick-and-mortar bank, look out for these common fees.

1. Overdraft Fees – (Avg. customer spend per year: $250)

An overdraft occurs when money is withdrawn from a bank account and you do not have enough in your available balance. 

The easiest way to avoid this fee is not spending more than you have available and by opting out of overdraft protection and fees. This generally means your card will be declined if you do not have enough in your account to make the purchase. 

2. Monthly Fees – (Avg. customer spend per year: $23) 

Many traditional banks have monthly account fees. Two common monthly fees are: 

  • Account maintenance fee
  • Minimum balance fee

Banks will often waive the maintenance fee if you opt to set up a direct deposit. In turn, this can help you maintain the minimum balance required by the bank so you avoid a fee for having too little in the account.   

Considering banks make billions of dollars on customer’s balances but pay customers essentially no returns, we think there is no reason for customers to be charged these monthly fees. To avoid these fees completely, we encourage customers to turn their attention to the range of fee-free alternatives that act in your interest (pun intended!).    

3. ATM Fees (Avg. customer spend per year $13)

ATM fees are charged for using an ATM that is “out of network”. This means they are not owned or do not have a partnership with your bank or credit union. 

You can avoid ATM fees by only using your bank’s owned or partnered ATMs. If your account is with a credit union, they have a credit-union co-op that allows members to use other branch ATMs without paying a fee. Check with your local credit union branch to see if they are part of the co-op. 

4. Foreign transaction fees

A foreign transaction fee is charged when using your debit or credit card overseas. The fee charged is typically well above the exchange rate. 

We think every dollar you spend overseas should go towards you enjoying your trip (and not towards bank fees!). If you are a frequent traveler, you can avoid these fees by considering accounts that offer no foreign transaction fee. They do exist!

5. Hidden Fees (Avg. customer spend per year: $43)

The bank fees above are common and easy to spot. However, you should keep your eyes peeled for hidden fees like:

  • Transaction search fees
  • Paper statement fees
  • Early account closure fees
  • Money transfer fees 
  • International transfer fees

If you prefer banking with a traditional institution, carefully read the bank’s terms and conditions. To avoid these fees entirely, evaluate the range of “challenger banks” and fee-free alternatives that pride themselves on transparent pricing.  

Shop Around For a Bank without Fees

Banking fees are an unnecessary evil. You have more choice than ever to select an account that could save you hundreds of dollars in fees every year. 

While it may seem like an impossible hunt for a fee-free alternative, the truth is that it’s simpler than ever. There is an emerging set of financial service providers who are ditching the ‘hidden fee’ culture that traditional banks have held for so long. New entrants have become well known for offering the benefits of traditional banks without the hidden fees and obscured pricing structures. 

At Finch, we are proud to offer fee-free accounts. We have eliminated all hidden fees and charges, and have no account minimums to get started. We are committed to always being transparent with our customers on how much they are being charged and make recommendations to ensure you are not paying more than you need to. Most importantly, we put your money to work for you, allowing you to earn market returns on your balance while retaining instant access to your money!

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