Avoiding financial service fees

By John Powell | March 26, 2010 | Last updated on March 26, 2010
2 min read

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada knows how much everyone hates financial service fees. Credit cards and debit card charges in particular can put a sizeable dent in anyone’s wallet or bank account.

To help consumers make informed decisions, the FCAC offers the following tips you can use to keep financial service fees in check as best you can.

1. Think before making transactions: Minimize the number of transactions by withdrawing one larger amount instead of several smaller ones, and use your own financial institution’s ABMs to avoid convenience fees.

2. Ask for cash back: Ask the cashier to charge you more than the total of your purchases when you pay using your debit card in stores. The difference between the amount of your purchase and the total amount is given back to you in cash so you can avoid a separate ABM transaction later.

3. Make sure your bank account fits you: Have you looked over your banking activities lately? Just like buying a pair of jeans, you need to consider whether your bank account is the best fit for you. Consider how many transactions you perform monthly and the fees your financial institution charges for different services, such as teller visits or debit purchases. You can use the FCAC’s Banking Package Selector Tool to shop around and for the lowest cost package that suits your needs. Remember, some banks waive fees if you keep a minimum monthly balance in your account.

4. Get to know your credit card: Like shopping for a bank account, carefully review credit card offers. Decide if those features and perks are worth the costs, and make sure you understand each card’s interest charges and fees. If you carry a balance from month to month, consider a low-interest card, which may come with an annual fee but charges a lower interest rate than standard cards. You can use the FCAC’s FCAC’s Credit Card Selector Tool to help you find a card that suit your needs.

5. Use your plastic wisely: Pay your credit card balance in full each month, make payments before the due date and avoid costly cash advances. Study the terms and conditions of your credit card to learn how to minimize those interest charges or penalties.

John Powell