Via U.S. PIRG, we came across this AP article on the enormous fees that businesses are charging consumers. After noting how much Americans pay in unnecessary fees (e.g., $14.6 billion in credit card fees last year), the author lists twenty easily trimmed fees. Our favorites, inside.
We like these because they’re the easiest to avoid, and there’s no inconvenience associated with not paying them (compare with extra fees for roomier seats on a plane or paying for an insurance policy over several months):
1. From small home security firms and heating oil delivery services to major telecom providers, a growing number of companies are charging “manual billing” fees for sending paper bills and statements, sometimes up to $3.50 a month. Sign up for e-mail billing or check your statements online instead, and save up to $42 a year.
14. Banks charge $10 to $38 for overdrafts, with the median about $27, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data says. These fees are getting more common as debit card use grows. So be keep your account register current, and be mindful of debit card spending, ATM withdrawals and any automatic payments that you have set up
18. Pay your bill late and expect to get socked with a fee of $30 or even $45. If you’re prone to forgetting the due date, set up an automatic payment through your bank account.
19. Rather than decline a purchase, credit card issuers now are just as likely to allow you to go over your limit and charge you a fee, typically about $35, says Adam Levin, chairman and founder of Credit.com. You’ll get charged even if you’re just a few cents over your limit, and even if it’s something like a late payment fee that puts you there.
The last three are pretty much iterations of a basic principle: “check your bank statements every once in a while.” It doesn’t take that much time to go online every couple days and check your balance, see when your payment is due, and make a payment if it is.
The whole list is full of useful tips, and is worth checking out in its entirety.