Posted in Money Saving Tips.

8 Sneaky Bank Fees and How to Avoid Them

1. Minimum balance fee

Depending on your bank and the type of account you hold there, you might be required to have a minimum balance at all times. And if you don’t? You may be charged an annoying fee.

What’s worse, if you leave it without the prescribed amount of funds, your bank also has the power to close your account.


How to Avoid Bank FeesHow much the banks charge

Commonwealth: depends on the account – can be $4 per month.

Westpac: depends on the account

ANZ: $5 per month while account is below minimum amount

How to avoid a minimum balance fee

To avoid any account confusion, it’s worth the time to call your bank, speak to a real person and find out how much you need to have in your account – then ensure you keep the balance above that required minimum.


2. Account closing fee

If you ignore the warnings from your bank and they do close your account, the added insult is when they charge you a closing fee (not all banks do this but some do, so it pays to check).

Great business coaches always advise business owners to start with the end in mind and so it is when you are choosing which bank to be home to your business transactions. Before you even decide the bank that suits you best, ask them about their fees – including account closing fees – and base your decision on all the facts.


3. Lost card fee

Avoid Lost Card FeesIt’s probably happened to almost everyone – your debit card gets misplaced or lost and you need to apply for a replacement.

Unfortunately, many banks will charge you for this service – especially if your need for a card is urgent. Unlike many fees, this one does seem fairly reasonable – after all, you would certainly like prompt action to cancel your old card and ensure nobody is running around town charging unwanted expenses to your account, as well as the convenience of being able to access your new card as soon as possible.

If you need a physical card fast, some banks do offer a temporary replacement – a service that means you can avoid the expense of that express new card delivery.

Again – checking these things are a great idea to do when you are at the stage of shopping around for new bank accounts – rather than finding out at crunch time.

Of course, the best protection for your card and avoiding replacement card fees is to keep a close eye on your wallet or purse at all times.


4. Foreign transaction fee

Need to withdraw cash in a foreign country? Whether your need is related to business travel or a family holiday, most banks will charge you for the privilege.

Avoid foreign transaction feesHow much the banks charge

Commonwealth Bank: 3% of transaction value

NAB: 3% of transaction value

Westpac: 3% of transaction value

ANZ: 3% of transaction value

How to avoid a foreign transaction fee

One way to avoid these fees (and they can add up if you are making a lot of individual transactions) is to speak to currency conversion specialists and shop around for the best foreign currency solutions before you leave the country.

Some banks don’t have any added fees or charges for international money transfers. If you are a frequent flyer, it’s a smart move to find out who these financial institutions or currency conversion providers are and commit to doing business with them to help you get the best deal – rather than leaving it until the last minute and the fluctuations of a volatile currency market.


5. Paper statements

Still like paper statements? The banks don’t. As an incentive to push you to paperless banking, some banks charge a fee for paper statements. If you just throw them in the bin anyway – cancel them. It might save you some dollars you didn’t even realise you were being charged. The upside? You‘re doing the environment a favour too.

How much the banks charge

Commonwealth: Statements can be ordered free (limit 1 per day per account).

NAB: no fee (but they do charge between $4-$7 to meet requests for additional copies of statements that have been lost).

Westpac: If requesting bank branch to print paper statement for you – there is a charge (information not provided on bank’s site).

ANZ: Bank statements ordered through branches do attract a fee (information not provided on bank’s site).

How to avoid this fee

Contact your bank either online or in your local branch and request all communication by email.


6. Fees for online billing

So, the banks don’t want you to use paper but did you know that some banks also slug you for utilising the online bill paying service too?

If your bank is one of them, look at other bill-paying portals as alternatives.

The good news is that most bills can be paid for free using the billing party’s own website.

And, if you pay with your credit card, there’s be no other hidden fees or nasty interest charges building up.


7. Overdraft fee

Avoid Overdraft Fees

Just about every bank charges you for the privilege of having an overdraft. Not spending more than you really have is the only way to avoid it.

How much the banks charge

Commonwealth Bank: $10

Westpac: $9

How to avoid this fee

To avoid any accidental overdrafting, it’s smart to communicate with your bank and ask them to decline transactions on your debit card if the funds are not available. Be aware, though, that having payments to someone rejected may mean you incur a fine from that party, while they wait for their bill to be paid. Another reminder that research is important and cash flow is king.


8. Insufficient funds fee

An overdraft fee is different from a fee charged to your account because that account has insufficient funds.

The trigger, though, is the same – you don’t have enough money to cover a scheduled debit from your account.

If your bank returns a payment without honouring it, this kicks an insufficient funds penalty fee into place –sometimes up to $40. Then company who failed to get their payment on time may have also incurred a fee from their own bank – and they have every right to pass that cost on to you too when they send the reminder for that overdue bill.


Full list of bank fees and charges:

The list of fees and charges related to banking accounts is a long one – and they are not all mentioned here. All fees are important for you to understand before making any decision. We’v included links to the banks mentioned in this article to give you more information about their individual fees.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia fees and charges
NAB fees and charges
Westpac fees and charges
ANZ fees and charges