Bank charges can be excessive (don’t we know it), but what you might not realise is that they’re also often unnecessary. Seriously. Trust specialist and banking professional Kim Nokwaza explains the simple steps you can take to reduce your bank charges, so you come out with more cash in your pocket every month…
1/ Scrutinise your bank statement regularly
Hands up is you ever actually read your bank statement. Yeah, we’re guilty too. But properly scrutinising your statement often is the best way to ascertain whether there are additional charges on your bank account. This will show you where those few hundreds have gone – and whether your bad “banking behaviour” is costing you more through additional charges.
“An example of costly banking behaviour is going into a branch to obtain bank statements, which is costly compared to collecting them at an ATM, receiving them via email or online banking,” says Kim. Another tip: “Check your balance online or on your banking app, not at the ATM.”
2/ Use self-service channels
First, check whether the service you need can be performed via electronic channels (think: banking app or online banking) before visiting a branch. “Transactions performed on these channels are usually free or attract lower costs than transacting inside the branch,” says Kim.
3/ Swipe more than you withdraw
This is a big way to save on banking charges! Check whether your bank offers a banking product with unlimited card swipes at no additional charge – regardless of the amount. “Card swipes are free with most
banks,” says Kim. “Some banks even offer rewards to consumers when swiping their cards for purchases.”
Another way to save on banking charges it to withdraw money at the till, as opposed to an ATM. Withdrawals made at the till carry much lower costs for most banks.
4/ Choose the right account
“Try not to choose a bank account based on its monthly admin costs alone,” says Kim. “Rather base your decision on your unique transacting needs.” Don’t do much transacting? A pay-as-you-transact structured account is probably your best bet. The less you transact, the lesser your charges will be. Find yourself transacting a lot? A bundled offering might suit you better.
5/ Be aware of annual price changes
Banks tend to review their pricing annually – and they’ll communicate this to you. Pay attention to what they say and assess whether your bank account still aligns with your transacting needs. There’s nothing stopping you from switching to something different.
6/ Make payments on time… and avoid rejected debit orders at all costs
Failed debit order charges are among the highest bank fees you can incur – as high as R100 per failed transaction! “To avoid these unnecessary charges, ensure you always have sufficient funds in your account,” says Kim. Be aware: swiping your card or trying to buy something online without adequate funds can also result in additional fees being charged on your account.
It’s usually small, innocent charges that add up at the end of the month. So while it might take a bit of effort to get used to using your app and/or online banking, over time it will become a habit. Remember: Small changes in banking behaviour add up to much bigger savings at the end of the day.