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A male hand checking off bank fees from a bank statement

Have you ever thought about the money you lose through bank fees? A bank account might be a safe place to save, invest or manage your finances. But remember, banks are in business, too. And one of the ways banks make money is through charging fees for most, if not all, services.

 

Banks will not stop charging fees anytime soon. But that does not mean you have to lose money through some of these fees. Below are some of the common pricey bank fees and how you can avoid them.

 

Types of Bank Fees to be Aware of

1. Account Maintenance Fees

Most banks will charge a monthly maintenance fee to keep your account operating. The fees vary between banks. However, banks have different bank account products. And some of their accounts will not have a monthly maintenance fee. 

 

How to avoid account maintenance fees

Opt for a bank account or banking institution that does not charge monthly maintenance fees. Other banks will have additional features in exchange for low or no account maintenance fees. These include a high operating balance and the use of debit cards for payments or regular automatic deposits, among others.

 

2. Minimum Operating Balance Fees

It’s the minimum amount that your bank account needs to have at any given time. Again, not all bank accounts charge this type of bank fee. However, most banking institutions will have accounts that charge this bank fee. With such an account, the bank will charge you a certain amount for having a lower balance. Say, for example, the account has a minimum operating balance of Ksh 2,000 ($20). The bank will always charge you a fee when your account balance is below this amount, like Ksh 1,8000 ($18). 

 

How to avoid minimum operating balance fees

Avoid opening an account with a minimum operating balance, especially if you cannot meet this requirement. Many banks in Kenya offer accounts with no minimum operating balance. However, if it’s not possible to find one with no minimum operating balance. Or get one with a minimum operating balance you can afford. 

 

3. Overdraft fees 

It applies when you use more than what’s in your account. For example, when you pay for transactions worth Ksh 10,000 ($100) but your account balance is Ksh 9,000 ($90). The bank will charge you for having insufficient fees in your account to process the payment. The overdraft fee could be per transaction or overall transactions depending on the bank.

 

How to avoid overdraft fees

Do not opt for the overdraft protection fees. Without it, the bank will decline your transaction instead of processing it. However, beware, a bounced payment might cost you more in bank fees. Second, always keep track of your bank account balances, especially when using physical cheques. Chequebooks always have a section for updating details of the cheque amount, the payee, the payment date and the account balances before and after the cashing of the cheque. Always confirm these balances before writing another cheque.

 

Third, you can set low-balance notifications or alerts on your mobile banking or phone notifications. The bank will always send you an automated notification when your account balance is about to hit zero or the set amount. 

 

4. Hard Copy Statement Charges

Most banks will charge you per statement to print hard copies of your statement. Some banks may even charge you based on whether the account is operating or closed. The bank fees for printing will also depend on the period you need to be printed. Some of these charges can be as high as Ksh. 1.000 or above. 

 

How to avoid hard copy statement charges

You can request e-statements and save them in your drive for future reference. Your bank does not have to send you hard copies of your statement every month unless you are required to provide certified bank account statements, like when applying for a visa.

 

ATM machine and receipt with text declined for insufficient funds on account

 

5. ATM Fees 

ATMs can be a saving grace when you need some quick cash without having to queue at the bank. While every ATM transaction has a fee, it’s more expensive when you use an ATM that’s not in your bank’s network. We might be in a digital world where online and mobile banking saves us from queuing in a banking hall. But there are a few businesses that only transact in cash. Some local banks will charge you about Ksh. 30.00 ($0.3) when using their ATMs but charge over Ksh. 250 ($2.5) for other bank cards. 

 

How to avoid ATM fees charges

It’s good to always have some cash with you in case you have to pay for products or services where mobile money. Or running your credit or debit card is not possible. If withdrawing money is the only option, look for an ATM under your bank’s network or any affiliated networks. Some banks in Kenya have local agents offering some banking services, including cash withdrawals. If you cannot spot your bank’s ATM close to you, you can opt for an agent.  

 

6. Bounced Cheque Fees 

You will definitely receive a penalty for writing a bouncing cheque. Unfortunately, some banks will also charge you for cashing a bounced cheque. It doesn’t matter whether the cheque bounced due to insufficient funds and other errors like signatures and amounts. 

 

How to avoid bounced cheque fees

Ensure your account is fully funded before issuing a cheque. If a client is yet to cash a cheque unless it’s post-dated. You can call the payee to confirm why they are yet to cash the cheque. It’s also advisable to always leave money in the account to cover for this when they cash the cheque. It’s also ideal to always receive cheque payments from clients or people you know well in case cash, wire, and mobile transfers are not possible. Alternatively, you can issue or receive a cashier’s order/cheque, which is a payment guaranteed by the bank. It might not be free, but the cost will probably be lower than that of a bounced cheque. 

 

Woman typing on laptop keyboard showing money transfer — Photo

 

7. Wire Transfer Fees

Wire transfers might be the safest alternative to cheques, but they can get quite pricey. Wire transfers refer to the electronic transfer of money between bank accounts. Transactions like RTGS (Real Time Gross Transfers) can cost as high as Ksh. 500 ($5) or more. Swift transfers can go as high as Ksh. 2,000 ($5) with some banks. 

 

How to avoid wire transfer fees

You can use money transfer apps like PayPal for most international transfers or Pesapal. Alternative transfers to RTGS transfers are EFT (Electronic Fund Transfers). The difference between the two is that RTGS transfers happen in “real-time”, where the recipient’s account receives the funds immediately after the sender pays. EFTs, on the other hand, will take time for the money to reflect in the recipient’s account. Most EFT transactions will take about 1 to 3 days in Kenya. EFTs may take longer to reflect, but the charges are lower compared to RTGS transfers.

 

In Conclusion

The bottom line is to always keep an eye on all banking fees your bank charges you. If you are not sure, try going through your bank statement for the last 6 months or so. Some of the fees are unavoidable. But they are manageable, like ATM fees and bounced cheque charges. If a bank is charging you an arm and a leg for most of the services, shop around among its competitors. It’s probably time to settle for one with good services and affordable banking fees. And ensure you ask all the necessary and right questions regarding bank fees while you are it. 

DISCLOSURE: THE INFORMATION PROVIDED TO MY READERS IS GENUINE AND PRECISE TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE. THE LINKS PROVIDED IN THIS ARTICLE DO NOT BELONG TO ANY AFFILIATE PARTNERS AND I AM NOT PAID FOR THEM. THE ARTICLE OFFERS GENERAL INFORMATION AND SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE OR HELP THAT CATERS TO YOUR INDIVIDUAL FINANCIAL GOALS. KINDLY SEEK HELP AND ADVICE FROM YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISOR FOR PERSONALISED ADVICE AND HELP. ANY ACTION TAKEN BASED ON THIS INFORMATION IS AT YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY AND RISK.

Comments:

  • Marlow marion

    October 4, 2020

    “Second, always keep track of your bank account balances…” Best thing I learnt today. I am the type that never cares to know about my balance. Always assuming my money is intact.

    reply...

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