The bank fees you had no idea existed

wsj.com

wsj.com

It’s starting to get repetitive when people say that university students past and present are in debt. However, it’s undeniable and we can’t ignore it.

As hard as we work in the summer to save up and as much OSAP we may get, it still isn’t enough to make it through a full year of university.

We are approaching the end of the first month of the school year and it’s also the time students take a look at their bank account and realize they’re spending too much. Mid-term season is normally the time when the long lines at downtown bars begin to shrink as people realize they can no longer afford going out so much and/or are drowning in school work.

One of the worst things a university student can experience is being hit with unexpected fees. Not from the university, but from their banks. As much as we trust the banks with our money, being on a tight budget we can’t afford to let those same banks take our money.

I’m not sure how many people have taken a look at their bank accounts and seen odd $1-$5 fee charges or even charges that can exceed $10. It has certainly happened to me and it’s not fun.

The long phone conversations with your bank about what the fee is about are bound to be a bother. You may have even made a trip to the bank and turned around only to feel blindsided.

The simple answer you may get is that you exceeded your monthly limit on times you can use your debit card, the ATM or some other ridiculous reason.

According to a Globe and Mail article both the TD Every Day Chequing Account With Student Discount and RBC Student Banking Account offer 25 free transactions a month. Once you exceed that limit TD will charge $1.25 per transaction and RBC will charge $1.

If you’re me and you’re with one of these banks, you learned about this limit the hard way.

RBC does offer students a way to get out of the monthly 25 limit free transactions and get unlimited transactions, but they don’t make it easy. You can get the student account with unlimited transactions that costs at an unreasonable rate of $10.95 a month. However, that fee can be erased if you have an active credit card and active investment.

Obviously, this makes no sense at all. Students shouldn’t be forced to get credit cards, especially when they already don’t have the money to pay the monthly bill back. Credit cards can be good, but it isn’t a trap you want to fall into unless you know you’ll be able to pay back the bill. For investments? What student has the money for an investment?

So before you start hiding in your room for the rest of the year because you are low on money, take a look at your bank information. Make sure you aren’t being hit with fees that are unreasonable. Also, as the Globe and Mail article mentions, go meet with other banks. Sit down with other banks and find out what they offer. Find out how their offer is different and better or worse compared to the bank you are already with. Banks want your business so they’ll be as honest as possible if you know the right questions to ask.

It may sound boring and you may think you don’t have the time to go around and meet with banks, but treat it like a blind date. You’ll eventually find a bank you can trust, which will lead to you being happier financially.

Also, to help yourself financially stop using ATM machines that will charge you as high as $2 for a transaction. Make the trip to your bank and get the money you need. You don’t want to pile up ATM charges for the year, although there will be times you have no choice.

So go check your bank account. Take a look if you’ve been hit with any fees, and if so, ask your bank why. Then ask if there is any way to avoid being hit with the fee. If it’s something ridiculous like needing a credit card and an investment, start seeing other banks.

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