When you keep your money in a bank, it may not be used to its maximum potential. And that’s just fine with your banker, since a bank is a business. It’s supposed to make as big a profit as possible. If you want to make the most of your money, you will have to watch out for yourself. Here are 10 things your banker won’t tell you:
1. You May Not Be Eligible for the Advertised Rate
Whether it’s for a rewards checking account, or for a loan, you might not be eligible for the advertised rate. There might be a minimum account requirement, or the best loan rate may come with a rather high credit score requirement. When you go in, bank employees will try to sell you on a less attractive rate.
2. Some Banks Drop the Yield on High-Balance Accounts
You should read the fine print regarding high yield savings accounts and some other types of deposit accounts, because in some cases there is a point at which the yield begins to head down. Some banks, once your account balance reaches $50,000 (or it might be another amount), will switch you off the plum yield you have been enjoying. Make sure you understand the terms of the account, especially if you plan to build up a large balance.
3. You Could Lose Out on Interest During a CD Grace Period
In some cases, if you close a CD during the grace period, you may not get the interest. Losing interest during the grace is not a concern if you let the CD automatically renew. If you change the CD during the grace period, the interest earned will likely also be paid; check your bank’s policy.
4. An Automatic CD Renewal Can Result in a Lower Rate
When your special rate CD renews, it could do so at the current rate, rather than a special rate you have been enjoying. In some cases, this could mean that you end up with a substantially lower yield. Find out if you can renew at a special rate if you are concerned that your automatic renewal will result in an automatic yield reduction.
5. You May Not Have Access to Your Entire Deposit Immediately
Be aware of the possibility of a hold. This is when a check is held in your account, but you don’t have access to the money, until your bank can verify that the funds will be paid by the payer’s bank. You earn interest on this money after the clear period, when the money is debited from the payer’s account and credited to yours, but you may not be able to access it for as many as five to 10 days.
When you make some deposits into interest bearing accounts, you might discover that you do not start earning interest on the money until after the deposit clears, so you could lose a couple days’ worth of interest on your money.
6. If You Reject a Rate Hike on Your Credit Card, the Account is Closed
Credit card interest rates go up regularly, and you may not want to pay them, especially if you still have a balance. You have the right to reject an interest rate hike, though, and pay off the balance at the old rate. However, when you take this option, your account is closed and you no longer have access to it. Even if you are not at the limit, the immediate closure means no more buying things with that card. If you have automatic debits for bills, or other concerns, you will want to make sure your money is moved before rejection an interest rate hike. You should also check your credit report afterward, to make sure that it reflects that the account was closed at your request, and not initiated by the creditor.
7. You Can Have Some Fees Waived by Asking
Banks make big money on fees. From overdraft fees to ATM fees, such charges are big business. So banks like you to keep paying fees. However, some banks have policies about waiving some fees. You can usually get one or two fees waived each year – just by asking to have them waived. You can also look for financial institutions that refund ATM fees, or that charge lower fees for accounts.
8. Overseas Transactions Can Cost You Big
Many people don’t think about the fees that can result when they travel overseas. You can spend up to 3% (or more) of your purchase price just on currency conversion and other fees when you use your debit or credit card in another country. Additionally, the ATM fees are often heftier when you withdraw cash. You can reduce your overseas ATM fees by finding out if your bank has a partnership or an agreement with a foreign bank.
9. A Smaller Bank or a Credit Union Might Be Better for You
While this isn’t always the case, you might find that your money is better off with a small bank, or with a credit union. We are sometimes inclined to think that bigger is better, but the bigger banks sometimes offer less attractive rates, as well as lacking in customer service. Credit unions sometimes have higher rates on deposit accounts, and lower rates on loans. If you are concerned about access to your money when away from home, you can find out if your community bank or credit union belongs to a nationwide co-op that allows you access to funds at member financial institutions. In some cases, community institutions will refund the ATM fees paid while out of town. Shop around, and go with the financial institution that works best for your personal needs – whether big or small.
10. You Might Ding Your Credit Score When Opening an Account
One of the things that your banker may neglect to tell you is that opening a deposit account can result in a hard credit inquiry. This is the kind of credit inquiry that affects your credit score. So, opening a new account might result in a slightly lower credit score if you are not careful. Be sure to ask the institution what sort of credit impact your account application will have.
There are certainly other things that your banker won’t tell you. Can you think of a few things your banker may not be telling you?