Recent Graduates: Watch Out for These Sneaky Bank Fees 🎓

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Every recent grad with a bank account should check this out. 💸There are few things in life that get my blood boiling more than bank fees.  So not only do banks make money by lending out multiples of your money at interest rates multiple times higher than they pay you, but they also want to charge you some annoying fee every month on top of that.

Thankfully, I can report that I have never had a monthly fee on any of my bank accounts for long.  Whenever I'm charged a fee, I immediately call the bank and kindly ask them to remove it since they will typically do so if you haven't had to make a similar request of that same bank in the last 12 months.

And when I see banks charging fees on new college graduates, boy am I mad.  With rising student loan interest rates and fewer entry-level jobs available, don't graduates have enough financial troubles than some silly fee from their bank?

🎓 Related: How to Get the Lowest Interest Rate on Your Student Loan Refinance

📜 The Fine Print

So for those of you recent college graduates who opened up a checking account while in college, be sure to read the fine print of your account, or better yet, call your bank to ask about their fee structure.

What many banks will do is waive the fee while you're still a student and under a certain age (typically 23 or 24, depending on your state), but as soon as you graduate, 👊BOOM💥, they'll smack you with a fee if you don't meet other requirements.

Below I've copied and pasted the actual “fine print” about the monthly maintenance fee for a multinational bank that I'm sure many of you dear readers have accounts with.  The specific information about the bank and the actual name of the checking account has been obfuscated to protected the “innocent.”

Checking Account Fees

Checking Account Fees from an Actual Bank (click to enlarge)

So the monthly maintenance fee is $12 (red circle in middle box), but this can be waived if you meet any one of the following requirements:

  • Direct deposit of $250 or more (first underline in middle box).  Yes, for many recent graduates who have a job lined up, this shouldn't be a problem, but for those who are still in job search mode, it's a problem!
  • Minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more (second underline in middle box).  Many recent graduates are just scraping by, what with student loan interest rates being what they are, so a $1,500 minimum daily balance just isn't feasible for many of them.  Oh and by the way, “minimum daily balance” typically means the lowest end-of-day balance in your account for any day during the month.  So if your account dips to $1,499.99 or less at any point during the month, you will not meet this requirement.
  • Enrollment in some rewards program (third underline in middle box).  I looked up the specifics of this reward program, and you'd need to have at least $20,000 stashed away with this particular bank.  Again, this is not feasible for the average recent graduate.
  • Be a student under the age of 24 (red circle in right box).  So this is where many of you got out of the monthly fee for the past four years.  Well, this won't cut it any more!  You will have to qualify under one of the other requirements!

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🏦 1. Call your bank.

The number to call should be on the back of your debit card.  And of course you could also walk to a physical branch.  But whatever you do, be sure to ask them about the fee structure for your particular account, and ask them if there is any way you could get those fees waived for some period of time.

💸 2. Don't be afraid to take your business elsewhere.

If your bank won't work with you, a new college graduate, someone just starting out in life and who doesn't have all that much money, then it's time to say “adios” and take your business elsewhere.

💰 3. Here are some recommendations.

The financial institutions below might be a good place to start if you're looking for a new bank as it's my understanding that they have more flexible fee structures (or no fees at all).  And no, I don't make money from them!

Ally Bank: no, Ally does not have any physical locations or ATMs, but you can use literally any ATM, and they will reimburse you your ATM fees.  Score.

Schwab Bank: there are physical locations that are far and few between, but like Ally, you don't have to pay ATM fees.

Local credit unions: search for credit unions in your area, tell them that you are a new college graduate and looking for somewhere to keep your money without incurring fees.  I think you'll find that most credit unions are friendlier and less strict than the big banks of the world.

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