Having a checking account can be costly in Houston...that includes your ATM card. Glen McBride of Bankrate: "These fees tend to be higher in the Greater Houston Area, costing over $5 for an 'out of network' transaction." And heaven forbid you bounce a check in the Houston area with fees over $35. McBride says, "Overdraft fees go up with remarkable consistency. What we have seen this year, though, is 60% of banks do offer some sort of 'wiggle room' before they charge you the fee.' "
Plus required high balances may be costing more than you realize. McBride, analyzing a new survey, says Houston has the third highest overdraft penalties at more than $35. ATM fees can be as high as $7 here. But, if you do some digging, you can find better deals. "This year we found nearly half of the banks offering a Free Checking Account - and even more of the Credit Unions."
Here are some of Glenn McBride Banking Tips
- Sign up for email or or text alerts that warn you when your balance is below a certain level. Then you can transfer some funds into your account to avoid being overdrawn.
- Set up a savings account with the same bank and set up a link between the two accounts.
- Develop a habit of pulling out your phone, go to your banking app and see what your AVAILABLE balance is every day. That's important because that check you deposited yesterday may not be available until tomorrow, and you'll avoid making a purchase that might cost an expensive overdraft.
- If you do have an overdraft, call your bank and see what 'wiggle room' they may offer to avoid a $35 fee. It's worth a call.
- Shop for a bank or credit union that offers a free checking account.
- Make sure you you know the network of ATMs your Debit Card is accepted in and avoid (especially in the Greater Houston Area) high ATM fees.