Chequing accounts provide an array of features and perks for their clients—besides keeping your money safe and easily accessible. But many banks charge you a monthly fee for having one. From monthly maintenance fees, to ATM fees and the infamous overdraft fee, chequing account costs can rack up fast—to the tune of ~$360 each year. That’s a lot of money.
Luckily, having your chequing account fees waived or avoiding them altogether may be easier than you think. Most financial institutions have set up ways to lower these account fees, which could end up burning a hole in your wallet. You can also avoid them at all costs by opting for a no fee chequing account.
Want to live with a fee or free? That’s entirely up to you—but here’s how to get your chequing account fee waived.
Keep a Minimum Deposit
While fees and rules vary among financial institutions, customers at most banks can easily dodge the monthly charges by maintaining their balance above a certain threshold. Some of the big banks will forgive those charges if you keep a minimum deposit with them. For instance, it’s all too easy to fork over at least $140 a year in monthly fees with Scotia OneTM Unlimited Transaction Account. But you can have this fee waived by maintaining a $4,000 minimum daily balance.
But there’s a drawback to most minimum balance schemes—come a dollar short of the minimum daily closing balance and you’ll pay the designated monthly fee. If you can’t achieve the minimum deposit mark today, you can take steps to bolster your balance. Just approach your minimum deposit as you would any of your savings goals.
Don’t worry if you’re pretty sure you can’t keep up with the minimum balances — there are several other options for you.
Use Cash or Meet the Minimum Debit Card Usage Per Month
Going back to cash may seem outdated but it can be a great step towards eliminating the monthly chequing account fees. Besides, some financial institutions will waive some account fees if you use a bank-issued debit card to bill payments or make purchases at least a certain number of times each month. The common minimum is usually ten transactions.
Consider an Online-Only Bank
When branch-based locations aren’t a necessity, going with an online-only bank will help you avoid monthly fees. For instance, you may incur an average of $5 per transaction for using an out-of-network ATM. This transaction fee is usually a sum of two charges: charges by your bank for using a different bank’s ATM and charges by the actual ATM owner.
Opening a chequing account at an online bank will help you avoid some of the most common ATM fees. Online banks also offer—on average—lower rates for monthly maintenance and overdraft fees because of the overhead saved by having no bricks and mortar locations to maintain. Besides, you may also receive a cash rebate after making purchases at a retail store.
Start by checking with your bank to better understand your online-only account options.
Bundle Your Banking Products
Banks will forgive chequing account fees if you’re able to establish a broader relationship with them—often called a relationship waiver. Your bank may waive your account fees if your combined balance from multiple product offerings exceed a specific threshold. Typical qualifying banking products include savings accounts, Certificates of Deposit (CDs), money market accounts and mortgages.
HSBC Advance, for instance, is a collection of flexible banking services that includes a unique chequing account feature. Its $25 monthly fee is waived when you have combined investments and personal deposits of $5,000 or more with HSBC. Your monthly fee is also waived if you hold a personal mortgage with an original amount of $150,000 or more with HSBC.
Always take advantage of any bundles being offered if you can score the best deals on different products from one bank. Unfortunately, bundling products may not necessarily afford you any preferential treatment.
Go No Fee
Yes, this is an option—you can opt for a chequing account with no monthly fee. If you can’t keep up with the chequing account fees, simply ditch your bank for an institution that provides free chequing. Canadians have a host of no-fee banking options, including Alterna Bank and Tangerine (a Scotiabank subsidiary), among others.
Switching banks has never been easier, and most banks’ websites will answer most of your queries regarding accounts. You don’t have to visit a branch since you can fill an application online. Going no-fee could also mean switching to an online-only bank, which will suffice if your daily banking mainly consists of basic transactions like debit purchases and bill payments.
Make sure you won’t incur an account closure fee when you leave your current bank, which may happen should you close your account within a few months of opening it.
Ask Your Representative for It
A simple call to your bank can help you avoid the monthly chequing account fees. While it may seem like a gamble, it’s definitely worth the effort. Call your banking representative and ask for a better deal. If you’ve had a good account history, use it as leverage for the bargain. It isn’t a guarantee but remember you’ll never get what you don’t ask for. Give it a shot.
The Bottom Line
You don’t have to settle for the ridiculous chequing account fees. A truly no fee chequing account typically offers everything necessary for day-to-day chequing. You can transfer money between accounts, spend with a debit card and deposit cheques with your mobile.
Do a little homework before opening a chequing account. Think about what works for you and assess how much you really need premium account features. Avoiding the monthly fees altogether should be your ultimate goal.