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Five Money Saving Bank Hacks

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Bank Hacks In Your FavorBanks offer a lot of services and features. You probably know most of the popular ones. Heck, you probably know most of the not so popular ones. However, I am pretty certain that there is at least one thing on the follow list that you didn’t know about before. And if I’m wrong, I invite you to look at these 7 Unwritten and Often Forgotten Credit Card Secrets, and hopefully between the two you’ll learn something new that will save you some money in these difficult times.

#1 Cashback on Debit Transactions

I don’t use my debit card much but if you are in an area where you can’t get to your bank’s ATM, the next best option is to buy something at a grocery store and request cash back. You will be limited to $20 or $40 (or more, depending on the place) and you have to buy something, but it’s better than paying the ATM fees and getting nothing for it.

#2 Remote Check Deposit

Some banks offer remote check deposit, a feature where you can scan images of your checks or fax your checks to your bank. This saves you the time spent waiting in line for a teller or ATM and the gas your car needs to get you there. When you think about it, a paper check is really an artifact of a past era. All the bank needs from the check, besides the security features (which many don’t even care about unless the check is over a certain amount), is the ABA routing number, the account number, the recipient, and the amount. Everything else is just dead tree. Not many banks offer this, but if you’re does, consider yourself lucky.

#3 Online Billpay

Yeah yeah, we all know about online bill pay. You set up your accounts and the utility company or the credit card withdraws the money, big deal right? While that can save you money, that’s often just part of what you can do with online bill pay nowadays. You can have the bank mail a check to someone on your behalf. Owe a friend $10 and you never remember to pay them? Just enter in the name and an address, the bank will mail off a check absolutely free of charge. You save yourself the headache of remembering, the embarrassment of constantly forgetting, and the cost of a stamp and check.

#4 Free Coin Counting

Avoid the ubiquitous Coinstar machines that siphon 8.9% of every transaction (unless you convert to a gift card) and find a bank that offers free coin counting. Most banks will let you use their coin counting services even if you aren’t a customer of the bank. They do this because, let’s be honest, coin counting is hardly an expensive task (it’s done by a machine) and they might be able to turn you into a customer. Either way, this site has a map and list places that offer free coin counting (not sure how accurate it is but it’s a start).

#5 Free Checks

Every bank has a checking account package that offers free checks. The hack here is to deposit enough money to avoid minimum balance fees, convert your account type to that account, get your free checks, and then convert it back (I wish I could claim credit, a Bank of America representative offered this as an option to ordering checks, which I took!). At Bank of America, that checking account is the Advantage® Checking with a minimum of $5,000. Ask to convert your account, then order your checks. Once they arrive, just convert it back – boom, free checks. You’ll want to do this quickly though because you’re giving up interest earned versus having it in an online savings account, especially since buying checks online isn’t all that expensive.

Do you have a favorite trick or hack that I missed? I’d love to hear about it!

{ 17 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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17 Responses to “Five Money Saving Bank Hacks”

  1. Matt Fyffe says:

    I like your free coin counting suggestion. I hate those machines that take a huge chunk off the top, but I’m a huge saver of my spare change. It’s good to see options to avoid being jacked by the machines and to find another outlet!

  2. My bank, Wells Fargo, does count the coins. I just brought my coins in and they counted them in a machine. Thanks for the free check tip. I might be using that soon.

    Thanks,
    Nate

  3. Keith says:

    I’ve used the coinstar machine but I try to make it a point to never do so. My bank will count my change for free and I usually deposit it. I still don’t have free checks though and that really bothers me! :-)

    Good ideas in this article! Keep’em coming!

  4. Ken says:

    Don’t forget credit unions. They often provide free coin counting and free checks.

    • Jim says:

      Very true, credit unions are more likely to offer those types of benefits because they’re smaller and more community centric.

    • Shirley says:

      Our local CU also uses the free coin counter. Before we knew they had it, we took in a shoebox of rolled coin and were politely asked not to roll them next time as they had to be unwrapped and be counted.
      Win-win situation. :-)

  5. Patrick says:

    Great tips. I agree completely with the first one. You are better off to buy something from the store and get cash back then paying all the ATM fees.

  6. Laura says:

    If you have your credit card through a bank or credit union, many times you can call your financial institution and have them transfer your payment from your checking or savings account for free. This saves you a check, a stamp and the hassel of late fees and charges if you don’t remember to pay until the last minute or the mail is delayed. I work at a credit union and encourage people to do this- many members had no idea they could even do this and are thrilled with the idea. The only way this wouldn’t work though is if you pay your balance from an account at a different bank or credit union.

  7. myth buster says:

    Don’t forget rewards points and other kickbacks. Wachovia’s check card gives you one point (worth about .2 cents) for every dollar you spend, with bonus points given for using their credit card or Earn More Mall. By itself, it’s a pretty lame reward when contrasted with credit cards, but Wachovia’s Way2Save savings account program will transfer a dollar from checking to savings every time you make an electronic transaction. You can also transfer up to $100/month automatically. The first year’s APY is a guaranteed 5%, with 5% matching funds deposited after one year (that is a bonus, on top of the regular interest rate).

  8. BrewCrewFan says:

    I’d suggest developing a relationship with a personal banker. I recently consolidated my family’s bank accounts with a single institution to take advantage of their rewards checking program. My personal banker has given me heads up on upcoming on CD rates, waived some fees and given me free checks for a non-profit organization that I am treasurer for. All these things have helped me generate a higher return on my bank deposits.

  9. I would recommend a twist on bill pay, even if it is free. You can often pay almost anyone or any institution with it, not just your credit cards or utility bills.

    My bank issues a paper check free if they do not have an electronic relationship with that entity.

    I give money to my church this way as well as pay a doctor’s office. It has been forever since I bought paper checks.

    • Shirley says:

      And if you send the free paper check through your bank or CU, it goes US Postal mail, but quite often goes out (and gets there) quicker than if you had mailed it yourself since they have daily pickup. Saves a trip to the Post Office too.

  10. Marx_ says:

    Thank you for the free check idea. My wife and I only use one check a month to pay rent. We’ve been trying to figure out how to get free checks since we ran out of check 6 months ago. Currently we have to make a special trip to our bank to have them issue one free, but the time and gas it takes to get it sometimes isn’t worth the check.

  11. echidnina says:

    I use cash back to save time, but not money – I’m always in an area with a local ATM, but it’s usually out of my way. So when I’m buying something anyway and need some cash, I’ll use cash back. My bank does charge $.25 for debit transactions though, and the ATMs are free, so it isn’t saving me money.

  12. Darren says:

    Until recently, I didn’t know about free coin counting services at banks. I was already familiar with Coinstar, but didn’t want to pay the transaction fee and didn’t want a gift card either.

    If you’re located near a Citibank, I’ve read that they accept coin deposits without a fee. However, you do have to roll up the coins yourselves. Since I’m a Citibank customer and have spare change, I’ll verify if this is true.

  13. Terry Pratt says:

    It took me years to adopt #1, because I was unclear whether any fees are involved.

    There are NO fees involved, except at a small handful of stores (the only ones I’ve seen impose fees are dollar stores, and I don’t make purchases large enough at these stores to qualify to use a card – the dollar store I shop most requires a $7 minimum purchase to use plastic), and since I don’t have a car, I frequently make small grocery purchases (competitive supermarket on the way home, no special trip needed), and thus don’t have to make a special trip or go out of my way to get cash.

  14. PK says:

    Couple of comments:
    #1 – Check with your bank, the one I used to work for still counted these as ATMs and charged the offnetwork fee for cash back on debit.
    #4 – Most banks charge a fee to non-customers for coin counting, so make sure to go to your bank. From working in a bank, there is a lot of upkeep maintaining manual and automatic coin counting machines.
    #5 – Banks can charge you the fees for services used when you do this switch and switch back maneuver, but will they? Probably not.


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