There are a numerous ways financial institutions could be charging you for services.
The amounts might seem small and not worth worrying about, but added together could represent a spending leak that creates a hole in your budget. And let’s face it, what student wants to pay for something they could be getting free?
Account fees: many institutions charge monthly account keeping fees for the simple privilege of… having an account. Some waive or refund the fees if you deposit a certain amount each month or keep your balance above a certain level. Check your statements to see if this applies to any of your bank accounts.
ATM fees: these can vary, with some banks charging for withdrawals from any ATM that isn’t affiliated with them, or allowing a certain number of free withdrawals per month and then charging for any extras. It is possible to avoid these fees by choosing an account that comes with free ATM access, sticking to your own bank’s ATMs or using EFTPOS to withdraw money if your account allows you to do this free.
Other transaction fees: these might include fees for using BPAY, using phone or internet banking, or overdrawing your account. Again, check your statement to see if you have been paying any of these fees.
Credit card fees: most credit cards come with an annual fee which can vary greatly, along with the interest you’ll pay on the money you spend. While some debit cards also attract fees, the cheapest solution is probably to avoid credit altogether and stick to spending your own money using a fee-free debit card.
You may be able to find ways to avoid or minimise these fees, or the solution might be switching to a fee-free account. Not all financial institutions advertise that these are available, but you can ask your bank or use a search tool to locate accounts with no account keeping or transaction fees.
Confused? Got questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about your individual circumstances, or visit the Looking After Your Bottom Line blog.