United Kingdom

How to avoid five common bank fees and save HUNDREDS of dollars each year in a few simple steps

Australians being hit with unnecessary bank charges, including annual fees, ATM costs, currency conversion and late fees are being told they can hundreds of dollars every year. 

Money experts from the financial analysis group Finder told Daily Mail Australia that $43million was wasted on ATM fees within the last year alone.

'Aussies who aren't across the fees risk paying more than they have to when withdrawing cash,' finance expert Kate Browne said.

Commonwealth Bank Australia, Westpac, ANZ and NAB axed their foreign ATM fee policy for non-customers back in 2017, saving customers about $2.50 per transaction (stock image) 

'Even just a couple of withdrawals per month can set you back $48 dollars per year in fees.'

Customers who are charged as little as $5 per month for keeping a bank account lose $60 each year.

When combined with one ATM withdrawal charge of $2.50 per week, the amount snowballs to $130 per year.

Adding foreign transaction fees and overseas ATM fees to the mix easily becomes more than $200 a year on fees alone.

Financial experts have weighed in with their top tips for avoiding bank fees. 

Unsuspecting Australians can be hit with swaths of charges, including annual fees, ATM costs, currency conversion and late fees that add up over time (stock image)

ATM Fees

Commonwealth Bank Australia, Westpac, ANZ and NAB axed their foreign ATM fee policy for non-customers back in 2017, saving customers about $2.50 per transaction.

While some smaller or independent banks still have these fees, Ms Browne suggested trying to make withdrawals from big four ATMs to avoid them.

'These are typically the easiest ATMs to find, so you shouldn't have an issue making a fee-free cash withdrawal from your Australian debit card. 

'If you're not with the Big Four, make sure to use an ATM owned by your own bank or a partner institution to avoid withdrawal fees.' 

Customers who are charged as little as $5 per month for keeping a bank account lose $60 each year (stock image)

Overdrawn Account Fee 

These fees apply when a customer writes a cheque or makes a debit card transaction when there is not enough money in the account to do so.

The cost of these charges largely depends on the  bank and the specific account, but most exception or 'penalty' fees range from $4 to $20. 

To avoid these fees, Finder money specialist Taylor Blackburn urged consumers never to assume money has entered an account without checking first.

'Regularly review your account details so that you're aware of what's going out and coming in for each account. 

'This will allow you to budget accordingly and could help you avoid penalty fees as a result.' 

Pictured: A table showing what penalty fees Australia's major banks ANZ, CommBank, NAB, St.George and Westpac charge

Late Fees

Late fees, or 'penalty fees', describe the charges that banks and other providers may apply when outstanding balances are left unpaid, beyond the due date. 

Mr Blackburn revealed that taxpayers are most commonly slapped with extra credit card charges for failing to make repayments. 

To avoid the extra fees, he urged customers to schedule payments. 

'Most banks let you set up automatic payments for your credit card accounts,' he said.

'You can nominate to have the minimum amount, full amount or a dollar figure regularly deducted from your transaction account before the due date.' 

Mr Blackburn revealed that taxpayers are most commonly slapped with extra credit card charges for failing to make repayments (stock image)

Bank Account Fees

Banks that charge as little as $5 per month in account keeping fees are taking $60 per year from customers. 

These charges can easily be avoided by changing to a fee-free bank. 

'A truly fee-free account will waive the monthly fee no matter how much you deposit into the account,' said Mr Blackburn.

Banks with no account fees include HSBC, ING, Citibank and NAB.

Some bank accounts do not charge monthly fees if customers meet certain conditions, like depositing over a certain amount each month. 

The amount can range from $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the account. 

Mr Blackburn said: 'In most cases, your salary should be enough to have the monthly fee waived.'

'Have your employer deposit your pay into a fee free bank account so you can automatically meet the service fee waiver each month.'

Some smaller or independent banks still have these fees, Ms Browne suggested trying to make withdrawals from big four ATMs to avoid them (stock image of a Commonwealth Bank ATM)

Currency Conversion Fees

Conversion fees can be charged when using debit cards overseas, or when buying goods from international websites.

These charges can equate to about two or three per cent per transaction, which adds up over time.

Mr Blackburn recommended finding credit and debit cards that waive foreign transaction and currency conversion fees, such as HSBC or Citibank. 

HOW TO AVOID BANK FEES: 

 - Compare products. If you're looking for a new credit card or bank account, comparing several options will help you find one with the fewest fees, or at least with the lowest charges.

- Contact your bank. If you are charged a penalty fee that you feel is unfair, contact your bank and ask that they be reversed.

- Read the fine print. It's important to go through your credit card or bank account Product Disclosure Statement so that you know when fees may apply so you can reduce or avoid them.

- Know the state of your accounts. Make sure you know how your income stacks up against your expenditure, and never assume that money due has entered your account without checking first. Using a money management tool like the Finder app can help you categorise your spending, know what's coming in and going out and alert you to any fees that are charged. It can also help you find better deals.

- Set up autopayments. Most banks let you set up automatic payments for your credit card accounts. You can nominate to have the minimum amount, full amount or a dollar figure regularly deducted from your transaction account before the due date. This will reduce the risk of late payment fees.

Source: Taylor Blackburn, money specialist at Finder

Football news:

Barca fans believed in the early departure of Bartomeu (due to disputes over the date of the referendum). In vain: there were no thoughts of retirement, the trophies are somewhere near
Josep Bartomeu: I had no intention of resigning. Barca will have trophies this season
Zinedine Zidane: Hazard is ready. We are happy, this is good news
Zidane on ISCO's words: it's ambition. Everyone wants to play
Bartomeu about VAR: In the match against Real Madrid, a non-existent penalty was awarded. We need fair football
Ian Wright: it's a Pity Ozil isn't playing, but Arteta's tenacity is admired
Josep Bartomeu: it was Important to start a new era for Barca with Messi. The Interests of the club are above all