Life’s busy, and accidents happen. So it’s not out of the question that you may inadvertently overdraw your checking account, especially if you have more than one. Given that a recent study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found the median per-item overdraft fee at the country’s largest banks was $34 in 2012, this is definitely not something you want to happen once, let alone multiple times.
The bottom line: When it comes to your money, you don’t want unnecessary fees chipping away at your savings growth; you should instead be enjoying the benefits of compound interest, unhindered. Here’s how to keep accidental overdrafts from eating into your funds.
Protect Yourself With a Savings Account
It’s easy to safeguard yourself from overdrafts: All you have to do is open an Ally Bank savings account and sign up for Ally Bank’s Overdraft Transfer Service. If your Interest Checking is inadvertently overdrawn at Ally Bank, available funds will be drawn from your linked Money Market Account or Online Savings Account to cover the difference. Just link one of these savings accounts to your Interest Checking and — if you exceed your checking balance — Ally Bank’s Overdraft Transfer Service will transfer available funds in $100 increments to cover the difference (there is no fee for this service). This saves you from racking up costly overdraft fees. To link your accounts, give us a call at 1-877-247-ALLY (2559).
Choose a Bank That’s Light on Fees
MoneyRates.com notes that many banks charge overdraft fees for each withdrawal that occurs while the account is overdrawn. So if you’re paying the 2012 median overdraft fee of $34 at one of the country’s largest depository institutions and you incur three overdrafts, you could end up paying three times that amount ($102) in fees. Pretty stiff fee, no?
But at Ally Bank — assuming you don’t have a Money Market or Online Savings Account already protecting you from overdraft fees — we only charge a $25 fee for overdraft items paid and overdraft items returned. And even if you have multiple overdrafts in a single day, we’ll only charge you the fee once that day.
Monitor Your Account — Especially When it Comes to Automated Payments
Direct deposit and automated bill pay are popular services for receiving a paycheck or making monthly payments. But, notes Money Ning, it’s possible to put too much trust into automation. After all, what happens when a payroll error or unexpected spike in your cable bill leads to you having less in your account than you expected?
If you’ve set up your account with any automatic withdrawals or deposits, keep an eye on your account balance to ensure you won’t be surprised by unexpected overdraft fees. At Ally Bank, that’s easy to do: You can monitor your account from personal computer or from your smartphone.
How do you avoid overdraft fees? Do you back up your account with a savings or money market account?