Ouch! As if making ends meet and increasing your Nonprofit’s bottom line wasn’t tough enough, many banks are starting to charge for some of the services they used to boast about being free. Their explanation is that new rules introduced in the past few years are cutting into their revenues. Many of the new rules are actually aimed at preventing or reducing penalties for things like minor overdrafts , which used to rake in a big profit for the banks. But let’s not forget that banks do have to make money to pay employees and shareholders, and savvy customers can still enjoy mostly free banking – if they do their homework. For instance, if you are prepared to do your banking transactions online and stop getting paper statements you can probably avoid the charges of up to $10 a month some banks now impose for checking accounts. Some banks will also waive charges if you use their own debit cards, post your checks at ATMs instead of via a teller, and use their direct deposit services.
Banks do have a legal responsibility to notify you of any changes in their terms of service, so if you receive a letter in the coming weeks, don’t just toss it in the trash – read it carefully. To be fair, many of them also offer guidance on how to avoid certain fees.
More than ever though, it makes sense to shop around and compare charges at different banks. Most of the hikes currently being introduced come from the big banking names and you may find that smaller, local banks either don’t impose those charges or charge less.