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When opening a checking or savings account, there are often fees associated with it. There are sometimes fees for just having the account, penalty fees if the balance is below a certain amount, overdraft fees, transaction fees and much more. However, by following some simple steps, there are also ways to eliminate these banking fees from your life. Here is a look at some ways to avoid banking fees to create a better banking experience.

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Understand the Costs Before Signing Up With a Bank

The most important thing to do when opening a bank account is to read the entire package and understand where there are charges. There are so many great free checking accounts at every level of bank, from nationwide mega banks to regional backs and credit unions, that it is easy to avoid the banks that feel it necessary to charge for bank accounts. Always look for free checking accounts with no monthly fees and no hidden costs for required balances or monthly transactions. 

Follow All Rules When there are Charges

If you are already in a banking institution that has some of these hidden charges, be careful to follow all the rules. If the bank states that a person must have a required balance or pay a monthly charge, keep that balance at all times or find a different checking account that allows a more relaxed balance or no fees at all. Some banks have multiple things that can prevent a monthly charge, such as a minimum balance or a specific number of monthly debit card transactions. It is easy to avoid these fees with the minimum number of debit card transactions by making multiple separate purchases when on a grocery trip or even going to buy a soda. Spending $1 on a soda is better then spending $10 on a monthly fee and then maybe getting hit with a dreaded overdraft charge. 

Avoid Overdraft Fees

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The overdraft charge is where banks really hit customers. For those people who live paycheck-to-paycheck, there are many times where a checking account is almost empty. Make certain to always keep the balance up to date because one missed payment and a $35 overdraft charge can cause a snowball effect where more items bounce. Before long, a checking account is weighing a person down and it seems impossible to crawl back out. Don’t just rely on the online balance because that doesn’t include checks still out there or payments that have yet to post.

Link a Checking and Savings Account

While it is not always a great idea to link a checking account and a savings account to the same bank, it does help when it comes to things like overdraft fees. If a person has money to keep a savings account going, most banks allow the person to link the two accounts so that, if a checking account becomes overdrawn, the money can be transferred over from the savings account to prevent the overdraft charge. Try to avoid banks that charge for this fee, but even those that do will save a person money on that expensive overdraft charge.

An Alternative to Typical Banking

Another way to avoid these bank fees is to look at options other than traditional banking. Credit unions always seem to be rated higher in customer satisfaction than traditional banks, both for being a more customer service friendly as well as for better rates. Unlike banks, credit unions are tax exempt, so they can offer free checking, higher interest on CDs and much lower rates on credit and loans. While some banks love to add on fees to remain profitable, there are plenty of ways to save money by shopping around to find fee-free options. 

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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.