A banking journey begins with the opening of a savings account. It is your first interaction with the financial system. Through it, you can keep track of your income and expenses. Besides services like online banking, ATMs, debit card, cheques book etc., you can also park your money safely and earn interest in a savings account.
When you first open a savings account, besides asking about the interest rate, minimum balance, and FD rates, it is advisable to know about lesser-known charges. Several services and charges are linked to your savings account; not knowing about them can cost you. Here is how you can track these charges.
Read Terms & Conditions
When a savings account is opened, the bank provides a list of charges and terms and conditions. It contains all the charges you may have to pay for availing of different types of services from the bank. You must read such terms and conditions carefully. You already know about the different services you’ll frequently use and their charges while operating your bank account. For example, you may frequently use services like NEFT and IMPS for money transfers, debit cards, etc. You should check their charges before you open a savings account.
Check Your Bank Statement Regularly
People often ignore checking their bank statements regularly, but this is not a good idea. The bank statement gives you details of transactions in a month, quarter and year. That is why you should always go through your bank statement carefully and highlight any discrepancy to the concerned bank.
Also, all charges get recorded in the bank statement, so it is easy for you to find out what you are being charged. If there is an unspecified charge, you can easily find it in your bank statement. It would help if you made it a habit of checking your account statement regularly—at least once a month. You can easily access the account statement through online banking or mobile banking App.
List Of Banking Services & Charges
Banks charge you for services. Charges may vary from bank to bank. For example, there may be charges for cash deposit or cash withdrawal over and above the free limits offered by any bank. There may also be charges for non-bank ATM use or for not maintaining the minimum average balance required by your bank.
Savings accounts require you to maintain a minimum balance, and the amount may differ from one bank to another. Salary accounts are zero balance accounts, but you need to fulfil a minimum balance criterion to avoid paying charges to the bank for other types of accounts. Some banks ask for maintaining a monthly average balance (MAB), some a quarterly average balance (QAB), and others require a minimum balance (MB) to avoid penalties. Before opening a savings account, you must check the minimum balance requirement. Your savings account may attract charges for cheque book, online money transfer charges (on IMPS, RTGS, NEFT, etc.), cheque bounce charges, bank statement charges, SMS alert charges, etc. If you plan to travel abroad and get domestic currency converted to foreign currency from the bank, there will be a currency conversion fee. If you use a debit card to make a payment in a foreign country, the bank may charge you a foreign transaction fee. If you use the debit card to withdraw money in a foreign country, the bank may charge you a foreign ATM withdrawal fee.
Stay Up-to-date With The Latest Bank Announcements
Over a period, charges on your savings account may change. Typically, banks keep you informed by sending you an SMS or emails. However, it would be best if you did not forget to frequently visit the bank’s website and keep abreast of the latest developments. You can also keep a copy of the latest banking charges; it helps track discrepancies if the bank erroneously levied any fee or overcharged you for any banking service.
Reporting Inaccurate Charges
Banks offer you several services free of charge on your savings account, but some of the services are chargeable. You need to know about them to avoid being trumped by lesser-known costs later.
If you notice any discrepancy in your bank statement pertaining to banking services or transactions, you can verify the same with the bank and highlight it for correction. If the bank has charged a fee to your account, you can contact the nearby bank branch and inform them about the wrong charges. You can give an application asking them to reverse the charges. You may also write a mail to the bank’s customer care department, pointing out the incorrect charges. Typically, banks reverse the charges wrongly debited from the customer’s account, provided you have complained about it, and your case is genuine.
(The author is CEO, BankBazaar.com)