13 Ways You Can Get More Money From Your Bank

By Emily Guy Birken, Wise Bread on 28 August 2018 0 comments
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13 Ways You Can Get More Money From Your Bank

If you've never thought of a bank as a place to make money, this may all sound too good to be true, but your bank can actually help increase your account balances. You just need to understand how to use the financial tools your bank offers. Check out Wise Bread's picks for the best online checking accounts.

Here are 13 great ways to earn more money from your bank.

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1. Eliminate your fees

While 86ing any fees you might owe your bank is not exactly the same as earning money, it will certainly help your bottom line, not to mention the rage vein that pops up in your forehead whenever you see your own money draining out of your account through fees.

Depending on the type of fees you might be prone to paying, you may have different strategies for eliminating them:

  • If you keep accruing minimum balance fees, you can call your bank to find out if there is an account with a lower minimum balance requirement — or if you can have the fee waived if you set up a recurring deposit, or link your checking and savings accounts.
  • If ATM fees are your personal foe, find out if your bank has an app that will help you locate fee-free ATMs in your area.
  • If you get stuck with overdraft fees or insufficient funds fees, sign up for email or text alerts from your bank to let you know when your account balance is low.
  • If you pay fees to your creditors because of missing due dates, online bill pay can help you schedule your payments and never get stuck with an overdue bill again.
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2. Negotiate out of paying fees

We tend to think of bank fees as being immutable facts, but they're more like guidelines than actual rules. So that means there is some wiggle room in talking your way out of paying a fee you don't agree with.

To start, if you believe the fee is an error, investigate the matter and bring the mistake to your bank's attention. Even if the bank is correct that you did overdraw your account (or use an out-of-network ATM), you can still potentially have the fee waived, particularly if it's the first time you've faced a fee with your bank.

For instance, several years ago my car was totaled on the day I planned to deposit my paycheck. (This was back in the dark ages before direct deposit.) Several charges went through that same day, overdrawing my account, which meant I was facing a $35 overdraft fee. When I explained the situation about the car accident while depositing my check the following day, the bank was kind enough to waive the overdraft fee.

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3. Take advantage of sign-up bonuses

Banks will often provide attractive sign-up bonuses for opening an account with them. To qualify for these bonuses, you'll probably need to open an account, maintain a certain balance for a period of time, and sometimes take part in qualifying transactions, such as setting up direct deposit.

If you're thinking of sign-up bonuses as not-so-useful promotions, it's time to update your expectations. Modern sign-up bonuses can offer eye-popping amounts of money that will go a long way to improving your finances. These sorts of bonuses come and go, so it's important to do your homework on which banks are offering the best sign-up promotions with requirements that best fit your needs.

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4. Find high teaser rates for new accounts

This past weekend, my husband and I found our heads swiveling in unison when we drove past a credit union that was offering 7.5% APY for checking accounts. Considering the fact that 7.5% interest would be a solid return on an investment opportunity, such an incredible rate could provide a major financial boost to any checking account holder.

While such a rate is likely a "teaser," meaning it will only last for a limited period of time, it's worthwhile to keep an eye out for banks offering high interest rates for new account holders. These rates are often much higher than the national average for savings or checking accounts, and they give you an opportunity to grow your money risk-free, at least during the promotional period.

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5. Take your money online

Sign-up bonuses and teaser rates are pretty good at brick-and-mortar banks, but to get the real bang for your buck, you should look into opening an account with an online-only bank. These institutions have lower overhead than their traditional counterparts, so they can generally offer better terms, perks, bonuses, and rates.

What's even better is that online banks often have great rates that aren't just teasers. While the "wowza!" online APY you find may be for a limited time, generally the rates you'll enjoy after the end of the promotional period will still be higher than what you'll find at a traditional bank.

Right now, there is a huge push to get more banking customers signing up with online banks, and you can find great sign-up bonuses and interest rates that will give a nice boost to your account.

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6. Use a rewards credit card

If you're not taking advantage of a rewards credit card, then you are missing out on a potentially free way to bring in extra money by doing what you already do. Not only do rewards credit cards often provide sign-up bonuses, but you can also earn a percentage of cash back on each purchase.

For instance, you might find a card that provides you with a $100 bonus for signing up, provided you spend a certain amount of money on the card within 90 days. You can also earn different percentages of cash back based on the types of spending.

The caveat for this kind of perk is making sure you can pay off your credit card in full for each billing cycle. Anyone who struggles with impulse purchases or paying off debt can find that rewards cards cost them more than they earn in cash back, due to higher interest rates.

However, if you have the discipline to make tracking (and paying off!) your rewards cards part of your routine, it can be very lucrative if you keep track of cards that offer good signing bonuses and provide cash back for the types of spending you are most likely to do.

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7. Consider a money market account

If you think checking and savings accounts are the only types of products available at your bank, you're missing out on another potential high-yield account. Money market accounts (MMAs) are a type of savings product that double as a checking account, with an interest rate that is much more generous compared to that of traditional savings accounts. For instance, according to Bankrate, the best money market accounts offer APY rates of up to 2.02%.

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8. Have a local credit union turn your change into cash

Nearly every household in America has that giant jar of loose change hanging about that no one ever gets around to rolling. That's because most larger banks will no longer count and roll change for you, so you're stuck rolling coins by yourself — and who has time for that? While you can find coin counting machines in almost every grocery store these days, those take a cut of the cash, unless you turn your coins into a gift card.

Instead of dealing with all of that, most local credit unions have coin counting machines that are free for members. This means you keep every penny of your money and you can do with it whatever you like, including add it to your account!

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9. Hedge against falling rates with add-on CDs

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are a very low-risk investment that also generally offer low returns, which opens you up to a kind of investment Catch-22. If you buy a CD at a higher rate, and rates go down before your CD matures, you will have to settle for a lower rate if you want to invest more money in another CD before the first one's maturity date.

But an add-on CD allows you to add more money to your higher-rate CD before it matures, rather than opening a new CD. Finding a bank that offers an add-on CD can give you an important hedge against falling rates, and help you bank more money.

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10. Hedge against rising rates with no-penalty CDs

Of course, falling rates are not the only potential cost of buying a CD. If rates continue to go up while you're waiting for your CD to mature, you will face a penalty to take out your money to invest in a higher-rate CD. But a no-penalty CD does not ding you for closing it out before the maturity date, which means you can invest your money in a higher-rate CD without paying the penalty.

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11. Use digital check deposit

Nearly every bank now offers an app that allows you to digitally scan checks for remote deposits. Not only does this save you either the gas money to drive to the bank or the stamp to mail your check in, but it also ensures that your money hits your account more quickly (since you don't have to make a special errand), earning you interest sooner.

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12. Open multiple savings accounts

There's nothing wrong with having a single savings account, but opening multiple accounts — across several banks or all within your home bank — can ensure that you are getting the most out of your money.

Not only can you chase after higher APYs if you have multiple savings accounts in several banks, but it also can help you stay in a better frame of mind for saving money. We are much more likely to feel excited about saving money if we have a specific goal in mind, and opening multiple savings accounts, each with a separate goal, is more likely to encourage you to keep that money in the account, rather than borrow from it anytime you feel the urge.

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13. Take advantage of your bank's automatic savings fintech

Many banks are working hard to compete with the financial technology apps that can help you save money automatically. Your bank could be making you money by rounding up your purchases to put the extra change in a high-yield savings account or by encouraging you to stick to a spending plan. Taking advantage of these mobile app savings programs is a free way to improve your finances and increase your account balances.

This article by Emily Guy Birken was originally published on Wise Bread.