Read Those Notices From Your Bank!

Posted in Banking • June 29, 2010

Bank Notices You Should Read

Lynnae McCoy is a freelance writer, homeschooling mom, and frugal living enthusiast. She writes about frugal living at Being Frugal.net and about balancing work and homeschooling at Freelance Homeschool Mom. When she has a rare spare moment, you can find her on Twitter.

I hate junk mail. Despite putting myself on “no junk mail” lists, I still receive a fair amount. Complicating matters, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the junk and the important papers. Is the envelope from Charter a sales pitch for more services, or is it my internet bill? Is the letter from my bank the annual privacy notice, or is it important?

My rule of thumb is all mail coming from my bank is important, even if it doesn’t look to be so on the surface. More than once over the past few years I’ve found that what initially looked like a generic notice, actually could have cost me money.

Notices Don’t Look Important, But They are

When banks change their fee structures, it’s in their best interests if the customers don’t notice. Thus, fee change notices are often printed on very plain, generic looking paper. Who wants to take the time to read all the fine print in a brochure when the brochure is all fine print? But if the bank sends a notice, and you incur a fee that was stated in the notice, there’s nothing you can do about it. The bank notified you, and that’s all that is required.

Often, you can avoid the new fees, if you take the time to read the notice and get to know the new fee structure. For instance, I received a notice a couple of months ago that I would start incurring fees if I made too many transactions with my savings account. I typically don’t make very many transactions with my savings account, but once in a while, such as when we’re getting ready to take a vacation, I move my money around a bit. Now I know I need to move it out of my savings account in one fell swoop, rather than pulling it out a little at a time. If I hadn’t read the bank notice, I might have been stuck with an excess activity fee.

Credit Cards Do it, Too

The same can be true of credit cards. Several years ago my bank sent me a notice that my credit card would begin incurring an annual inactivity fee. I had the option of using the card, paying the fee, or canceling the card by a certain time. If I hadn’t read the notice, I would have ended up paying an inactivity fee. As it was, I did read the notice, and I closed my account before the fee hit.

Even though it’s a pain, make sure you take the time to read those pesky notices from your bank. It could save you money!

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