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ATM Fees are Soaring – But WHY?

By | Personal Finance

ATM Fees

There’s arguably nothing worse than paying an ATM fee. You might ask why anyone would go to an out-of-network ATM, but emergencies occur and your bank may not be nearby.

If you’ve had to use an out-of-network ATM recently you’re probably aware of the soaring fees. A recent study from Bankrate.com concluded that the national average ATM fee is now at $4.52.

Keep in mind that’s the national average in other areas it’s even higher. According to Bankrate’s data the fee for using an out-of-network ATM is over $5.

Why do bank’s charge out-of-network and ATM fees anyhow?

Your bank says it’s the cost of maintaining ATMs. What actually goes into maintaining an ATM? U.S. News & Money asked John Oxford, director of corporate communication and external affairs at Renesant Bank about the reasoning behind the increases and he put the blame on four things:

  1. Government compliance

  2. Fraud protection

  3. Maintenance and service

  4. EMV chip compliance

“Many laws dictate how banks must operate. ATMs had to be upgraded in recent years to be compliant with the American Disabilities Act,” said Oxford. “ATMs have had to add skimmer detection and other items such as higher-quality cameras and lighting to make sure clients are and feel safe,” he said.

In addition to having to refill ATMs with cash, banks also have to pay a lease on the property where ATMs are located and insurance on the ATM itself.

You’ve probably already received a new checking card from your bank with an EMV chip. These embedded microchips provide a safer and better way to store cardholder information. According to Oxford, ATMs have to be ready to handle this upgrade which costs the banks money.

Smaller banks also have to pay to lease ATM machines themselves, which places additional financial burden on the institution.

Still, it’s difficult to feel sorry for the big banks when paying $5 to retrieve your hard earned cash. Fortunately consumers now have even more opportunities to avoid a visit to the ATM. Credit card and banking apps make it easier for you to transfer funds between your banking accounts and to others even if they bank with another institution.

How to avoid the fees?

To avoid transfer fees from your bank try using apps like Venmo, Paypal and Square Cash to send money. You can even send money through Facebook. If you have an iPhone you can even make purchases with your phone. Just make sure you’re not connected to a public wifi when you make an app transfer.

How do you feel about ATM fee increases? Will it change the way you bank?

Banking Fails – Don’t Make These Banking Mistakes

By | Personal Finance

Let’s face it, there’s nothing sexy about banking. A trip to the mall is a fun outing, but shopping for a checking and/or savings account can seem tedious and boring. While it may not make for a fun afternoon, comparison shopping is key to securing great rates, returns and financial security.

When looking for ways to improve your personal finances, start by looking at the way you bank. Take a deep look at your banking statements, and look for fees and other charges you could be avoiding.

Here’s a list of banking mistakes to avoid in 2016:

Paying a monthly maintenance fee on a checking account

Some banks charge a fee each month for “maintaining” your checking account. This fee can be over $10, which will cost you $120 every year. Many banks offer ways to avoid this fee, including making sure your account balance meets the minimum requirement. For online checking accounts this can be as little as $25. That means by keeping as little as $25 in your account at all times you can avoid the maintenance fee. The most common way to avoid maintenance fees on your checking account is by setting up direct deposit. If you have your paycheck directly deposited into your personal checking account you could avoid the monthly fee. Many banks require an initial deposit when opening a checking account. This amount can be as little as $100 and as high as $1,500. If you have difficulty keeping your balance consistent, shop around for the bank with the lowest requirement on a core checking account.

Thinking you’ve opted out of overdraft protection

In simpler times you could only spend money you had, whether it was in the form of cash or via our debit card. Banks initiated overdraft protection, so that customers could spend up to a certain amount even if they’re short of funds. This provides the customer with the ability to pay a bill or make a purchase even if they have insufficient funds. It may be that your check arrives a day late or was postponed by a holiday, you could have forgotten to cash a check or move funds around. Whatever the reason overdraft protection can help you avoid an embarrassing encounter. It can also cost you heavily at the bank. One minor mistake can lead to hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees. You can be charged up to $38 for every purchase made over your balance. By opting out of overdraft protection, you prevent the bank from allowing you to make certain purchases when you have insufficient funds. You can opt out of overdraft protection on your debit or ATM card, but you can’t opt out of protection on checks, automatic debits or bill-payment transactions, according to Nick Clements contributor for Forbes magazine.

Using out-of-network ATMs

As we’ve previously told you about, ATM fees are on the rise and soaring. The good news is these fees are completely avoidable. By using an ATM from another bank you’ll be charged twice for removing funds, once by your bank and once by the owner of the ATM. To avoid these fees bank with a company that has a large ATM network. Do a little research and find out which bank has locations near your home and office, making it more convenient for you to bank.

Taking risks with your debit card

Debit cards don’t offer the same protection as credit cards do. According to the FTC, you have unlimited liability if you wait 60 days to report fraudulent activity. Waiting two business days to report fraud can mean your accountable for $500 of the spend. That’s unlike credit cards that will charge you a maximum of $50 of the fraudulent activity. Some credit cards like Visa promise zero liability, as reported in Forbes. To avoid fraudulent activity don’t use your debit card at the pump, and other areas where fraud is popular.

Bank with Your Phone? Watch out for this

By | Fraud Protection, Personal Finance

The majority of us do it, bank with our phones, but it can open you up for fraudulent activity. Banking with a mobile device has become common place – it’s quick, simple and efficient, but it’s also easier for hackers to steal your information and make purchases using your funds.

With your mobile device you can manage your checking accounts, transfer funds to other banks and even pay for purchases at your favorite store. However, increased exposure has some experts worried, warning consumers to follow precaution when banking with mobile.

Here’s a list of things to watch out for when banking with your mobile device:

Don’t go public

Going public with most things signifies achievement, but don’t go public when banking with your mobile device. We all want to restrict data usage and take advantage of public Wi-Fi networks, but they pose a significant risk when mobile banking. “Mobile banking apps are connected to wireless networks, and these networks are inherently insecure as they broadcast their messages into the open air,” Ron Vetter, co-founder of the technology company Mobile Education LLC told the U.S. News.

To avoid this danger change your Wi-Fi settings when entering public places. Many of us have our Wi-Fi settings set to automatically connect to available Wi-Fi networks, which must be switched off if banking in spaces like coffee shops, airports and other public environments. There’s no way to control who’s accessing the network and who may be looking to steal your banking information.

Don’t auto-save

Auto-save is a great convenience. It allows you to make purchases and log in to portals without having to type all your information each time. It’s also one of the best ways to open yourself up for fraud. Anyone who has access to your phone can access your banking information and commit bank fraud. That applies to strangers who come across your phone, but also friends and family members who have regular access.

Password protect

Which brings us to our next tip – keep your phone protected by adding a password or better yet your finger print. Many mobile users for-go password protection for convenience. It can be annoying to have to log into a device each time you want to access it, but that annoyance can prevent someone from making purchases with your credit or banking account. Many phones now offer finger print protection, which prevents anyone but you from accessing your device and the information stored on it.

Beware of apps

Unfortunately Google and Apple don’t have the capability to vet each app owner before offering their app to the public. By allowing apps to access your information you’re opening yourself up for hacking. There’s no way to control how an app user chooses to use your information once accessed. If using an app to manage your money choose those from established financial institutions, preferably those you bank with currently.

Banking with your mobile device is fast and convenient. When used properly and with the right safety precautions it provides consumers with a better way to bank.

Was this article helpful? How do you protect yourself against bank fraud? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

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