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Guide to Savings Account Fees and Costs

Guide to Savings Account Fees and Costs
Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarcoUpdated March 27, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
A savings account allows you to safely store your money and earn a return at the same time. However, these accounts don’t always come free. Many banks charge savings account fees, such as monthly maintenance fees and excess withdrawal fees, which can detract (or even outpace) the interest they pay.Fortunately, not all banks charge fees, and those that do often give you ways to get your fees waived. Here’s a closer look at common savings account fees and what you can do to minimize them, or avoid them entirely.

What Are Savings Account Fees?

Saving account fees are costs that come with keeping your money in a savings account. Banks charge these fees to recoup their operating costs and also to earn a profit. One of the most common savings account fees is a monthly account maintenance fee, though you may be able to get this fee waived by maintaining a certain minimum balance in your account or opening a checking account at the same bank. Other common savings accounts fees include excess withdrawal fees, out-of-network ATM fees, and paper statement fees.

Main Types of Savings Account Fees 

If you have a savings account or you’re thinking about opening one, understanding how much you have to pay for different banking services will help you get the most from your account. Here’s a look at some common fees associated with savings accounts and how they work.

Monthly Maintenance Fee

Monthly maintenance fees are one of the most common types of fees you’ll encounter with savings accounts. Banks charge this fee to cover the cost involved in maintaining your account, and it’s often in the range of $1 to $8 per month. Some banks charge different maintenance fees for different types of savings accounts, with higher fees for premium accounts that offer special rewards features and lower fees for a basic, no-frills savings account.You can often avoid a savings account maintenance fee by opening both a checking and a savings account at the same bank, keeping a certain minimum balance in your account, or setting up a recurring monthly deposit or direct deposit into the account.

Out-of-Network ATM Fees

If your savings account comes with an ATM card (or it’s linked to a checking account that does), you could get hit with a fee if you use an ATM that is outside the bank’s network. You could also get hit with a fee from that ATM’s operator. ATM fees average around $3.00 (plus around $1.50 from the ATM operator), but you can avoid them by staying in network. 

Returned Item Fee

If you deposit a check into your savings account and it bounces because the payer doesn’t have enough funds to cover it, you can end up with a returned item fee, which could run around $12 (the party that wrote the check will also get hit with a fee from their bank). This is a fee you will have little control over other than only accepting checks from people and companies you trust.

Paper Statement Fee

Some banks will charge you a fee of $2 to $6 for mailing printed statements to your address every month. You can generally avoid this fee by opting for paperless statements (or e-statements) and accessing your statement online. If you need a paper copy, you can simply download the statement and print it out.

Wire Transfer Fee

A wire transfer is a fast way to send funds to another person or account electronically. This service is often used to send money internationally. Fees can run $25 to $50 for domestic and international outgoing transfers. However, you can avoid them by planning ahead and finding other ways to transfer money, such as making an online transfer or writing a check

Excess Transaction Fee

Savings accounts are designed for saving rather than everyday money management (that’s what checking accounts are for). As a result, they typically come with monthly withdrawal limits. While federal rules restricting savings account owners to six withdrawals per month have been suspended, banks and credit unions can still limit the number of monthly withdrawals or transfers you’re allowed to make and charge fees if you exceed the max. These fees can run $3 to $25 per transaction.

Early Account Closing Fee

After opening a savings account, some banks and credit unions may require the account remain open for a certain period of time or the account holder may be charged an early-account-closure fee of as much as $25. Usually to avoid this fee all you need to do is keep your new savings account open for 90 to 180 days. Check what your bank’s rules are before you move forward with closing your account.

Inactivity Fee

If you leave your savings account untouched for a long period of time, you could get hit with an inactivity fee (also known as a dormancy fee). Not all banks charge this fee but when they do, it can cost anywhere from $5 to $20. Usually, you just need to make a small transaction at least once every six months to avoid an inactivity fee. Setting up a recurring monthly transfer from checking to savings is another way to avoid this fee.Recommended: What Is Postal Banking?

Monthly Fees for High-Yield Savings Accounts

Depending on the bank, high-yield savings accounts may come with similar fees to regular savings accounts. For example, you may have to maintain a certain minimum balance to avoid a monthly maintenance fee. And like all savings accounts, you may get hit with an excess transaction fee if you make more than six withdrawals or transfers in one month. 

Fees for Online Savings Accounts 

If you’re looking to avoid fees, you may want to consider opening a savings account at an online bank. These banks generally have lower overhead costs than brick-and-mortar banks, and are able to pass that savings on to their customers in the form of higher annual percentage yields (APYs) and low, or no, fees. You can often find an online bank with no maintenance fees and no account minimums. However, they may charge excess transaction fees. While online banks don’t have their own ATMs, they will often offer free ATM access through a partner network or reimburse you for any ATM fees you encounter.  It’s a good idea to check the online bank’s ATM policies and fees before opening an online savings account.

Tips for Avoiding Savings Account Fees

Here are simple things you can do to avoid savings account fees.
  • Shop around. Look for an account that has no monthly fees or one with requirements to avoid the fees that you’re able to meet. 
  • Limit monthly transactions. Keep track of the number of times that you withdraw funds so you don’t exceed your bank’s transaction limit. Since the limit typically doesn’t apply to ATM withdrawals or trips to the teller, you may want to choose these methods for withdrawing money when you need it. 
  • Opt into e-statements. If your bank charges a fee for paper statements, be sure to log into your account and sign up for electronic statements right after you open your account.
  • Only use in-network ATMs. You can avoid costly ATM fees by only using ATMs in your bank’s network. Many banks’ mobile apps will help you locate and use the nearest fee-free ATM.
  • If you get hit with a fee, ask to get it removed. Even if you get hit with a savings account fee, it may not be a done deal. If your account is in good standing and you haven’t incurred a lot of fees in the past, it’s worth calling customer service and asking if the bank will waive a fee. They might be willing to credit your account. 
Recommended: How Much Cash Should You Keep at Home?

The Takeaway

Savings accounts pay interest on deposits, but irksome account fees can eat into your earnings. With a savings account at a traditional bank, for example, you could get hit with a service fee if your balance dips below a certain minimum for even one day during the month. Other common savings account fees include excess withdrawal fees, paper statement fees, and out-of-network ATM fees.If you’re looking for an account that pays a competitive APY and charges few or no fees, consider using a savings account comparison site. With Lantern by SoFi’s online banking marketplace, for example, it’s easy to compare high-yield savings accounts based on APY, fees, and balance minimums all in one place.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are fees charged on savings accounts?
Do all bank accounts have savings account fees?
How can you avoid paying savings account fees?
Photo credit: iStock/AntonioSolano

About the Author

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco is a personal finance writer and editor based in Southern California. While she spends the bulk of her time writing about complex financial issues, she also tackles a variety of subjects ranging from food to fashion to travel. Her work can be found across dozens of publications such as Credit Karma, LendingTree, Northwestern Mutual, The Everygirl, and Apartment Therapy.
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