Watch your wallet! While you’ve been minding your own business, your bank has been quietly robbing you blind.
It turns out that banks make a surprising amount of their money from fees they charge their customers. And they’ve been steadily hiking up those fees, year after year, over the past two decades. Today’s bank fees are super high compared to what they were 20 years ago.
Nowadays, the average American is paying nearly $100 a year in bank fees, according to a Nerdwallet analysis of data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And if you ever have overdrafts, you’re probably paying a lot more.
Then there’s all the time you put in! Let’s say you go to the bank once a week, and it takes half an hour each time to drive there, do your business and drive back. (And I’m being generous here. If you’re hauling kids, it takes longer than that, doesn’t it?)
Take half an hour a week, multiply it by 52 weeks, and you’re talking 26 hours a year spent at the bank. That’s more than a full day.
Save Yourself Time and Money
All we have is time and money, and you never have enough of either one. So how can you save time and money on your banking?
Here’s how: Bite the bullet and switch banks.
It’s time. If you don’t make the switch, your bank could keep raising those fees on you, year after year, with no end in sight.
Move your money into an account that doesn’t charge those fees — like the Aspiration account*.
You’ll never pay a monthly maintenance fee, a minimum balance fee or an overdraft fee.
Oh yeah, let’s talk about all those nasty fees. (Prepare to get mad.) We’re talking about ATM withdrawal fees, overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees, inactivity fees — the list goes on and on.
Rising ATM Fees
When you withdraw cash from an out-of-network ATM, you typically get hit with two fees: one from the ATM’s owner and another from your bank. The average ATM surcharge has gone up 19 times in 20 years, according to Bankrate’s 2018 study of bank fees.
The average cost to you, the customer, is at a record high of $4.68 — 36% higher than it was a decade ago.
With Aspiration, you pay no ATM fees — domestic or international. ATMs in-network are free, and Aspiration will reimburse you the fees for out-of-network ATMs monthly.
Rising Overdraft Fees
About 30% of checking account holders pay overdraft fees each year, according to the CFPB.
Not only that, but 18% of bank users pay more than 90% of overdraft fees, according to a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The average overdraft fee got higher in 16 out of the last 17 years, and has now reached $33, according to Bankrate’s fee study.
With Aspiration, you’ll never pay an overdraft fee.
All of the Fees
Put it all together, and checking accounts now charge an annual average of $97.80 in fees — nearly $100 per year.
Try a Fee-Free Option
Enough of the sneaky fees!
Aspiration works on a pay-what-is-fair model. You choose to set a monthly tip up to $10 or as low as $0, and you can change it anytime.
That gives you fee-free access to a Spend and Save account — and its perks. Check these out:
- Earn 2% APY on your savings as long as you squirrel away at least $1 a month.
- Earn 0.5% cash back on purchases with your debit card.
- Did we mention the lack of fees?
To put it simply, online banking services are easier to use than the traditional banks. They’re cheaper and more accessible. Instead of driving to the bank and back during banker’s hours, you can take care of your money anytime — even at night.
Making the Switch
I know it’s not always a picnic switching banks. It can be a bit of a hassle transferring your automatic payments and direct deposits to another bank.
In fact, a Consumers Union survey once found that one in five checking account holders considered changing banks each year, but less than half of those dissatisfied people actually bothered to make the switch.
Inertia, man. It’s the enemy.
You should think about switching to Aspiration, though. Signing up takes five minutes, and Aspiration makes it as easy as possible to transfer your information. Ultimately, it’ll save you time and money — an average of $100 and one day per year.
*Aspiration Partners, Inc. and its affiliates are committed to “All Extra Services Provided at Cost,” meaning that it’ll only charge you what it costs them to provide the extra service (such as a wire transfer), and not a penny more. Besides these at-cost service charges, the only account fee you pay is the fee you choose, even if it’s $0, which is why it’s called Pay What Is Fair.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He has actually switched banks.