July 29, 2014

3 Checking Tips to Save Some Chips

3 Checking Tips to Save Some Chips

Often times, at the heart of debt, there lies a problem with personal credit. How often though, do we consider our checking accounts when it comes to saving money? If you’re at all like me, then your answer is probably, “not often.” And if that is indeed the case, you should think again. While credit cards carry with them largely varying APRs, payment options, and minimums, similarly unequal in many facets are checking and debit cards.

If you’re looking to get a checking account, or even if you’ve already got one, these three tips can help you choose an account option that’s right for you, and hopefully save you some solid cash while you’re at it:

- Compare Banks and Cards

First and foremost, if you’ve already got an account it’s important that you really consider if it’s right for your needs. Switching banks can seem like an unnecessary, hassle-filled process, but it can save you some serious money often times.

First of all, if you’re paying for checking services, stop now and get out of there. With all the great free checking options out there, paying for an account is a waste. There are tons of free sites on the internet that will compare different companies and their checking account options for you. Also, almost all major banks will list the various accounts and specifics of each directly on their website.

As far as cards go, I’ve found that it can be helpful to switch to a prepaid debit card to avoid over-spending and overdrawing, and the fees that often go with. A Green Dot Gold Prepaid Visa Card is one of many great options in this category that you might heavily consider to save some money with. If prepaid isn’t your cup of tea though, at least research some different checking account or card options and seek one that’s best for your needs.

- Read the Fine Print

A few weeks ago, I happened to look over my checking account statement and found that I was being charged twelve dollars a month for a “monthly maintenance fee.” I did a measly five minutes of research into the matter and found out that my account carried with a minimum daily balance requirement that I was totally unaware of. The terms stated that if at any point during the course of the month, my balance dipped below a certain amount, I had to pay twelve dollars that month.

Considering the fact that I couldn’t recall when my balance had last been over that minimum requirement, I shudder to think how much money I handed the bank in fees over the course of my time with them. Needless to say, reading the fine print associated with any and all of your accounts is a wise idea. The same is true of monitoring your statements rather closely to see if you’re being charged for any fees or incurring any other bogus charges.

- Paperless Online Checking

Look into the paperless options your bank or future bank offers. Not only will paperless banking help the environment, it will make your life a lot easier. Instead of waiting for your statements to reach you via snail mail, check your up-to-date online statements whenever you want as often as you’d like. Using online options for checking grants you instant access to your funds, transfers, and billing options. There are also some great free online checking accounts out there as well that are worth looking into if a new checking option is in your future.

Saving money by practicing smart checking habits is a measure that often goes overlooked by your average bank user. It’s often that a customer will sign up for an account, throw their money in, and then totally forget about all the other options out there, never mind the features of their own account. But by taking just a little extra time to do some research and check out some other accounts and your own details, you can save yourself some serious money, and make sure you stay out of debt and in the financial freedom fast lane.