Banking know how

Common bank fees

  • Low balance fees—If your account falls beneath your bank’s minimum balance requirements, you get charged. You can often get around this one by having your paycheck automatically deposited (if you have a job).
  • ATM Fees—If you use an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank, you’ll get charged between $2 and $5. Heck, you might even get charged for using your bank’s ATMs. Check before you use them.
  • Bounced check fees—If you write a check for more than you have in your account, your bank will charge you a pretty penny—up to $35. And since merchants also charge fees for bounced checks, you could end up paying $70. So don’t do it.
  • Overdraft protection—If you accidentally overspend, this service makes sure you’re covered. But it’ll cost you.
  • Debit card fees—If you don’t look carefully, you could end up at a bank that charges you for the mere privilege of having a debit card. Or one that charges you for using yours.

An important note about making a deposit

You’d think when you put money in the bank it would be immediately available to you. But that’s not true, unless it’s a direct deposit.

When you deposit a paper check, your bank will probably hold it for two to three days before it’s available to spend. That’s because they want to make sure the check won’t bounce before they give you the cash.

So don’t go on a spending spree right after you make a deposit. You don’t want to end up in overdraft land.

Look for checking accounts designed for college students

Most banks have special deals for college students, such as no fee checking accounts.

Remember, banks want loyal customers. And if they hook you early and treat you well, chances are you won’t leave them.

So shop around—and don’t be afraid to negotiate in order to get a good deal.