Navigating banking charges to save money

Understanding your transacting behaviour and what you need from a bank account can assist you in managing your bank charges. Transacting electronically can be a good way to save on bank fees, while choosing the right kind of account for you and your lifestyle is also important.

 “Taking the time to understand the structure of your account will help you understand what you may be charged on a monthly basis,” says Line Wiid, CEO of FNB Transact. “Take the time to read and understand the pricing plan which your bank presents you with and if you have any questions ask detailed questions which will assist you in fully understanding where your money will be going. This will also help you figure out whether or not the account you are choosing is the right one for you. Not understanding the pricing structure equates to not managing your money well as you will not be able to track where your money is being spent. The consultant at a branch is equipped to recommend various options, although the ultimate decision lies with you,” she says.

 The amount of money you earn is a factor you should consider when choosing a bank account. The more you earn, the more you will transact, so it is a good idea to choose an account which will allow you some flexibility in this area. Also consider the nature of your employment, if you are a seasonal worker, or temporarily employed you could decide on an account which would charge you no monthly fee, for example. This account could however turn out to be a more expensive option if you receive an income more frequently as the ATM withdrawal costs tend to be slightly higher. You should also make sure that you understand the difference between a savings account and a day to day transactional account. In some cases a savings account may be slightly more expensive because it is not designed to be used often for transacting purposes but rather as a savings vehicle.

Some ways of saving on bank charges could be to use electronic forms of banking such as, Cellphone Banking, using your debit card to pay for goods at shops, Online Banking or even using a Cellphone App to transact. There is no need to withdraw cash if you are visiting an area where electronic payment is accepted. You could simply swipe your card, which is much cheaper than withdrawing cash from an ATM. Real-time Cash deposit accepting ATM’s can also save you time and money, allowing you to make a deposit without having to visit a branch, while offering the convenience of being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and your money is reflected in your account immediately. Some banks may also reward you for transacting wisely and using electronic channels. Take time to find out about some of the rewards programmes that your bank has available, and how you can accumulate rewards  while saving on your fees.

“If you need to withdraw cash at regular intervals during the month, you may want to opt for a bank account that offers you flexibility in terms of the number of free ATM cash withdrawals you can make per month. You could also think about withdrawing a higher amount less frequently as opposed to a smaller amount more often,” suggests Line.

If you have the option of using an ATM which belongs to the bank you bank with versus another bank’s ATM rather opt for your own bank’s ATM so that you only pay the withdrawal fee as per your pricing plan, rather than paying additional service charges for using another banks ATM.

“Another area which is important to note is that of debit orders,” says Line. “When your debit orders are due to be paid at a certain time of the month, make sure that there are sufficient funds in your account for the amounts to be settled. This will save you the inconvenience of having to incur charges for a bounced debit order and avoid the extra time spent on making these payments manually to the people you owe. This will also protect your credit record,” she concludes.

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