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Bank Better: Less Common Bank Fees and What They Mean

Katie DuncanMay 30, 2022

Reviewed By: Amplify

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We’ve been talking a lot about bank fees and how people can avoid them. We’ve covered some of the most common bank fees— but they don’t stop there! Many banks are set on continuing to load their customers with extra (and often unnecessary) fees and charges.

8 Less Common Bank Fees and What They Mean

Although not as common as other bank fees, these eight bank fees can add up for bank account holders.

1. Wire Transfer Fee

A wire transfer is a way to quickly transfer money between two banks. Though services like Venmo and PayPal are more commonplace nowadays, wire transfers are still used by banks and transfer service agencies around the world. You might find yourself needing to make a wire transfer to:

  • Open a new bank or investment account
  • Pay rent or put down a security deposit for an apartment or rental house
  • Make a down payment when purchasing a house
  • Send money to relatives

Unfortunately sending money domestically or internationally isn’t free with most banks. Domestic wire transfer fees are not insignificant—they can cost between $10 and $30. International wire transfers run even higher, usually between $45 and $60. If you need to make transfers frequently, these fees can really add up.

2. Return Mail Fee

Though online banking is more popular than ever, your bank still may occasionally need to send you mail like monthly statements or annual tax documents. If your snail mail letter is returned— which may happen due to a change in address— your bank may charge you between $2 to $15.

Because letters from your bank can contain sensitive information, they want to be sure it gets to the right person. The return mail fee is designed to cover the cost of handling returned mail and tracking down your new address.

Keep in mind that even if your bank doesn’t charge this fee, it’s always good practice to update your information at your bank as soon as you move. This ensures that everything ends up in the right hands.

Fee-Free Banking is Here

Looking for a financial institution that doesn’t nickel and dime you? If you live or work in Texas, join Amplify!

3. Account Closing Fee

You probably know that most banks charge a fee just for keeping your account up and running, but did you know that some banks will also hit you with a fee to close your account?

That’s right, some banks will charge you anywhere from $10 to $30 just to close the same account you’ve paid to open.

Fortunately, this fee typically only applies if you close your account shortly after opening it— usually between 90 to 180 days. The idea is to encourage loyalty and discourage people from opening an account just for sign-on benefits.

4. Paper Statement Fee

Still prefer paper statements? They used to be the standard option, but nowadays you should be prepared to be charged between $1 to $6 every time you get a copy. Beyond that, not going paperless may mean that you don’t qualify to get your monthly maintenance fee waived— so you’ll pay even more.

While many people can just opt-in to paperless statements, there are times when you’ll want to have a paper copy to verify proof of income or assets. The cost is meant to encourage customers to reduce waste and cover costs associated with postage, printing, and paper.

5. Foreign Transaction Fee

Are you a frequent traveler? You’ll want to be on the lookout for foreign transaction fees, which are extra charges tacked onto your account each time you make a purchase in a foreign country. Foreign transaction fees can be a set fee— usually between $5 and $10— or a percentage of the transaction— typically between 1% to 3% of the transaction amount. Suddenly that croissant you ate while on your trip to Paris just got a whole lot more expensive.

And it’s not just international trips that will trigger this fee. If you’re a fan of online shopping, you’ll have to be extra careful of the brands you’re buying from. If you purchase something from a company outside of the United States, you’ll may also get charged.

6. Return Check Fee

Are you still using your checkbook to pay bills or rent, make charitable donations, or send money to relatives or friends? If so, you aren’t the only one! Millions of people still write at least one check a year.

If you write checks, you may be familiar with the returned check fee. A returned check— a.k.a. a bounced check— is a check that a bank has declined to pay. A check can be returned for a number of reasons:

  • It’s too old
  • The check was disfigured or torn up
  • It’s missing critical information

Another common reason why a check may be returned is because the bank account lacks sufficient funds. In this case, your bank might charge you a return check fee and an insufficient funds fee.

7. Excess Transaction Fees

Your bank may charge you an excess transaction fee if you transfer or withdraw money from your savings account or money market too frequently. The number of allowable transfers per month is low— usually only between three and six transfers per month. After that, you’ll have to pay $5 to $15 for each transfer or withdrawal.

8. Inactivity Fees

If you have an old bank account that you don’t touch anymore, it’s a good idea to check in on it, because you may be unknowingly paying an inactivity fee. That’s right— your bank can charge you fees simply for not using your account. Because inactive accounts can cause administrative headaches for banks, they charge $10 to $20 per month to encourage customers to regularly use their accounts.

How to Avoid These Fees

There are ways to avoid these fees. For instance, to avoid the wire transfer fee, you can opt for other methods of payment, if possible. You can get around an account inactivity fee by using all of your bank accounts a few times a year. You can avoid an excess transaction fee by, well, not making excessive transactions.

If you’re battling overdraft fees, your financial institution might allow you to set up alerts for a balance below a certain point. You may even be able to set up daily alerts. This alert may or may not include pending transactions, so it’s important to remember what might be coming out of your account.

The easiest way to avoid fees? Find an account that has no fees at all, like the fee-free checking and savings accounts at Amplify. 

Go Fee-Free with Amplify

Amplify Credit Union is proud to provide fee-free checking and savings accounts to all members. You won’t have to worry about paying for the services you need, whether you use them every day or once a year. Our fee-free initiative is just one way we are proud to give back to—and not take from— our community.

Become an Amplify Member

Every Amplify account holder enjoys fee-free banking. That means no overdraft, maintenance, or other banking fees cutting into your pocket.

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Katie Duncan

Katie Duncan is a financial writer based in Austin, Texas. Her articles include financial advice for freelancers, homebuyers, and more. When she’s not writing, Katie loves traveling and exploring the outdoors with her friends and her dog, Poe.