How To Ensure You're Never Stuck With Overdraft Fees

Robb wrote in with a suggestion on how to bank without ever getting stuck with an overdraft fee — make sure as many plastic purchases as possible come from prepaid cards. His method seems like a hassle but may be worth the effort for those who can’t keep tabs on their checking account balances.

He writes:

I wanted to write in to let your readers know that I’ve found a foolproof way to assure that I never have an overdraft fee;

I don’t use banks that charge them.

Simple? Here’s how. I first started out with a prepaid card from Mygreendot.com. Since I have direct deposit setup, I do not pay a monthly fee at all. They simply do not allow the transaction to go through if you have insufficient funds. I’ve been using them since October without a single hitch.

Next I needed a checking account because I’ve got a wedding to pay for. I visited fidelity.com and opened up a MySmartCash account with them. It is a full checking account, that EARNS YOU INTEREST! I called them and asked them what their overdraft policies were. She chuckled and said “Sir, we do not charge those fees at all because we simply decline the transaction”. Wow! What a novel concept. And unlike Bank of America, transactions show up in the account instantly and are not withheld to maximize the amount of money they can ding you for. I have a debit card, checkbook, and they offer some of the nicest, most pleasant customer service people that I’ve ever spoken to.

Once readers understand that they don’t have to have an actual bank account and there are options, they can break the binds that tie. I have walked away from 3 banks because of overdraft malpractice. Even if someone wanted to keep their bank account, my suggestion is to go to any Walgreens or 7-11 and get themselves a prepaid card. Use this card for your day to day transactions and you will never have to worry about an overdraft fee again!

What other tricks do you know of — other than the tedious tactic of actually keeping track of how much money you’ve got — to steer clear of overdraft charges?