Don’t Get Stung by Banking Fees

June 30, 2023

Banking fees have a tendency to buzz around your finances, waiting to sting when you least expect it. At least that's how it seems. Whether you have a single bank account or multiple credit cards, incurring fees can swell your spending and weaken your budget. But preventive measures can keep them at bay.

Here are four standard banking fees and tips to repel them.

Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) Fees are charged to a checking account when the available balance isn't enough to cover part or all of a transaction. The fee may appear each time you attempt a transaction and there isn't enough in the account to cover the expense.

Here are some safeguards to avoid NSF fees:

  • Monitor your spending and follow a budget.
  • Sign up for low balance alerts.
  • Keep extra funds in your account.
  • Transfer funds from another account before making unbudgeted purchases.

You can also avoid the fee by opting out of overdraft coverage. However, doing so means payments will be declined at the point of purchase.

SchoolsFirst FCU offers members three overdraft protection options:

  1. Share Transfers is a no-fee service that automatically transfers from your savings or money market accounts to cover transactions.1
  2. Overdraft Protection Loan is ideal for individuals who frequently use a debit card or checks to manage daily finances. With no monthly service or transfer fee, this line of credit triggers up to $5,000 deposited into your checking account to cover transactions.*
  3. Debit Mastercard® Overdraft Protection automatically covers debit card transactions when there aren't enough available funds in your account.2 Unlike Share Transfers, it doesn't transfer money from another account to cover the transaction and you aren't borrowing funds as you would with an Overdraft Protection Loan. Instead, the payment is covered by the credit union for a fee. You are still responsible for depositing money into the account to cover the amount overdrawn.

Over-Limit Fees can occur when a credit card borrower has first elected to have transactions that exceed their available credit amount processed and paid by the creditor. SchoolsFirst FCU doesn't charge an over-limit fee on credit cards. If the borrower then completes a transaction that causes the balance to exceed pre-set limits, the fee is added to the account.

Over-limit fees often signal you need to pay closer attention to your increasing account balance. Spending more than your credit limit could cost you more than a nominal fee — some credit card companies will automatically raise your interest rate and void your rewards point balance. Take these steps to put an end to these fees:

  • Sign up for balance alerts.
  • Request a credit line increase.
  • Confirm your available credit before making a large purchase.

You can avoid this fee by signing up for over-limit coverage. Again, be aware that doing so means payments are declined at the point of purchase.

Late Fees pop up on a credit card statement when the borrower fails to make at least the minimum payment by the due date. Fees are added to the balance and increase the interest charged on the account. Read your credit card's terms and conditions, as late fee application varies by issuer.

Avoid late fees by asking your creditor to change the due date so it occurs shortly after payday. You can also set up automatic payments from your checking account so they arrive several business days before the due date.

ATM Fees typically apply when you use a debit or credit card to withdraw funds at an automated teller machine (ATM). Fees may be charged by both the ATM operator and the financial institution. Some banks and credit unions charge fees for using machines outside of a preferred network. Since fees vary, review your card disclosure statement for details.

You can skip ATM fees by banking with institutions like SchoolsFirst FCU. Our Members have access to fee-free ATMs across the country.3


*Subject to credit approval.

  1. Money market transfers are subject to a limit of up to six electronic transfers per month.
  2. Debit Card Overdraft protection fees: We will charge a $22 fee each time we pay an overdraft. A fee is charged when the transaction is over $10 and your account is negative more than $10. We limit overdraft fees to a maximum of three (3) overdraft fees per day. Negative shares must be paid immediately. Must be at least 18 years old to opt-in for this service. Whether your overdrafts will be paid is discretionary and we reserve the right not to pay. For example, we typically do not pay overdrafts if your account is not in good standing.
  3. $1 charge per withdrawal for non-SchoolsFirst FCU/CO-OP Network ATMs. Other financial institutions or merchants may charge for use of their ATM or POS terminal.