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Tips for Avoiding Bank Fees

Educate yourself about savings account fees now and save money in the long run

You are ready to put some of your hard-earned money into an interest-bearing savings account, but you're wary of bank account fees. The best way to avoid bank fees is to review them when you first open your account to learn what triggers them, and then work to avoid those triggers.

Fee structures vary for savings accounts, money markets and CDs, so compare bank fees before you decide. If you take the time to understand what you are looking for, you can reduce the potential of incurring fees and increase the value gained from investing in a savings account, money market or CD.

Avoiding bank fees is less complicated if you follow these general guidelines

Guideline 1: Define your investment strategy to avoid savings account fees

Choosing the right account depends on a variety of factors, including the amount of money you have for your initial investment and the frequency with which you'll be withdrawing money. Answer these defining questions so you have them available as you compare account details and bank fees:

  • How much money do you need to open the account?
  • How often do you plan to draw money from the account?
  • Do you need easy access to your funds?
  • Are high interest returns more important to you than accessibility of funds?
  • How long can you invest the money before you will need to use it?

Guideline 2: Choose the right type of account for your investment to avoid bank fees

Once you understand the strengths of each of these accounts, avoiding bank fees is easier. Deposit accounts can be divided into categories based on the answers you gave to the questions above.

  • Choose a savings account if you are starting with a smaller deposit, need access to your funds on a regular basis, and would be satisfied with a lower return on your investment.
  • Choose a money market account if you are starting out with a more sizeable deposit and your goal is to see a higher return, but still need regular access to the funds.
  • Choose certificates of deposit (CDs) if you have investment deposit that you could put into an account for a fixed amount of time, and earning higher yield is your focus.

Guideline 3: Know the general and specific fees associated with each account

Once you can put yourself into a category for investing, it is important to contact your banking representative and compare bank fees. Here are ways you can reduce or eliminate certain bank account fees:

Savings Account:

  • Maintenance fee
    Tip: The good news about this fee is that most accounts have certain parameters you can meet to have the fee waived. In some cases meeting the amount required with a combined monthly balance, or completing a set number of transactions a month will waive or lower the fee.
    Tip: Even if you aren't making frequent deposits into the account, make sure that you are contributing enough to keep your account above the minimum balance - even after maintenance fees are drawn from the account.
  • Minimum balance fee
    Tip: Make sure that you keep your funds above the minimum requirement for the account. Fees here can add up fast if you overlook them, so always make sure that after fees and draws on the account you are still above requirement.
  • Transaction fee or Inactivity Fee
    Tip: Decide how often you will be using the funds in this account and choose an account to support that level of activity.
  • Check Fee
    Tip: Make sure there is no limit on the number of checks you can write per period, and if there is be sure to stay within that number.
    Tip: Some banks will charge a fee to send you an image of a canceled check, or the check itself. However, many will allow you to see an image of the check online for free. Be sure to talk to your account manager to learn the specifics of your account.

Money Market Accounts:

  • Maintenance fee
    Tip: A simple way to avoid this fee is to keep your account balance above the minimum daily balance.
  • Transaction fee or Inactivity Fee
    Tip: Be aware of limits and try to plan your withdrawals and deposits to the account accordingly.
  • Check Fee
    Tip: These are common with money market accounts. Adhere to the limits of the account to avoid unnecessary fees.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs):

  • Early withdrawal fee
    Tip: Put money into a CD if you are confident you can leave it there for the term of the CD. There are both shorter and longer maturity rates with CDs, so choose the option that works best for you - even if that means a slightly lower return.
    Tip: To make the most of CDs and have more frequent access to your funds, learn more about CD laddering.

Make sure you understand how bank account fees and terms are defined at your bank.

Maximize earning potential when you avoid fees

For more information and recommendations about how to avoid bank fees on your deposit account, schedule an appointment with a Citizens Bank financial consultant. Our consultants will answer your questions about each account and help you get started. Call 1-800-242-2224 for more information.

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