If you're looking for ways to lower your bank fees, you're not alone. Bank customer dissatisfaction may arguably be at an all-time high. When asked, most customers say that the reason for their dissatisfaction is the escalating fees and increased service charges that seem to have become an epidemic in the banking industry.
One example of this customer frustration came in late 2011 when Bank of America announced it was going to impose a monthly fee on debit cards. Within just a couple of weeks, 221,000 bank customers closed their accounts and joined credit unions. Debit card fees are a reason many people are utilizing prepaid cards instead of credit or debit cards.
Because of skyrocketing fees, many bank customers are withdrawing their accounts and pursuing other ways to safeguard their money. There are a variety of organizations that offer the same services as a bank. These institutions often don't have the fees, service charges and regulatory restrictions that seem to be suffocating the banking industry.
If you're not comfortable with the idea of tucking your cash away in a shoebox under the bed and you'd like to make some interest on your account, there are a number of alternative financial institutions you could consider.
A credit union is an excellent resource for those who want to borrow money because credit unions offer loans at several percentage points below the current rate. Loan applicants can generally save hundreds of dollars in service fees as well.
The downside to a credit union has always been membership requirements; it used to be that you couldn't belong to one unless you worked for certain companies or in certain industries. In today's market, however, most of these restrictions have been relaxed and many credit unions are open to everyone.
Brokerage Cash Accounts
An increasing number of brokerage firms are offering cash management accounts that include debit cards as well as direct deposit and full checking account services. It's a way for these firms to attract investors, so customers are treated well and given good rates for opening accounts.
These investment firms want to develop a long-term relationship with you and your money, so you'll find that individualized customer service will generally be exemplary.
Prepaid cards can offer a good alternative if you really need to tighten your purse strings and you absolutely can't afford to pay service charges and high interest fees. In addition, you don't have to have a good credit score to apply for a prepaid card.
A prepaid card acts as a checking account; you load the card with your own money and then use the card to access that money. It makes an excellent budgeting tool because you can't spend anything beyond the amount deposited on the card.
Many people today are purchasing prepaid cards at moneysupermarket because of the convenience they offer. These user-friendly cards also come in handy during overseas travel because you aren't charged a foreign currency fee when you use them.
In the end, you can start taking control of your finances by taking control away from the banks. Whether you decide to purchase prepaid cards, join a credit union or invest in a brokerage firm, just remember that if you take care of your money now, it will be there to take care of you in the future.