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Tuesday
Jul162013

‘Real Money’ Tips to Avoid Paying High Bank and Credit Card Fees

Comstock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Jeff and Kim Strickland of Chicago say they’re getting burned by their banks because of late payments and low balances.

“We try to pay those credit cards off every month,” Kim Strickland said. “I know we probably miss here and there.”

Together the couple -- Jeff Strickland works in IT; his wife is an author -- have racked up $276 and counting in fees this year. At the same time, their banking accounts have earned them less than .05 percent -- a grand total of $22.50.

So the “Real Money” team introduced financial expert Anisha Sekar from the money-savings site NerdWallet.com to the Stricklands so they could get the inside scoop on how to make the bank work for them. When Sekar was finished giving the pair a banking and credit-card overhaul, the two were looking at getting an extra $3,000 in five years.

Sekar shared the following tips:

1. Head to DepositAccounts.com, which tracks all banks and credit unions on record. Sekar suggested looking for the highest yield interest checking accounts. With Sekar’s help, the Stricklands found an account that would earn them 4 percent interest.

2. Consider a credit union if you’re getting stung with ATM fees. Sekar said that many credit unions are either part of a nationwide ATM network or will reimburse ATM fees. By dividing their money up among a few high-interest accounts, the Stricklands stood to earn 78 times the national average. The banks simply required customers to opt for direct deposits and e-statements and use the debit card a few times a month.

3. Use free site NerdWallet.com. It crunches the numbers based on your spending habits and recommends credit cards. Sekar found one that slashed the Stricklands’ annual fees and interest rate.

4. Check out the free app Mint, which also tracks your spending and sends you warnings so you don’t get hit with late and overdraft fees.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio