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How to Avoid Debit Card Fees

Vicky Warren · July 16, 2019 · 4 min read


No matter what you buy, you have to pay for it somehow. Using a debit card used to be an easy, cost-effective way to make purchases. Now, most debit cards come with hefty fees that many would like to avoid. 

Not to worry, there are several ways to pay without a debit card. Here are a few to consider. 

Pay With Cash 

Many of us don’t carry much cash anymore. It’s bulky, untraceable when stolen and you have to be diligent in getting receipts to prove you paid for the items or services. It’s also the least secure option. However, it’s still accepted almost everywhere, so it’s an option. 

Most banks don’t charge for using your debit card to withdraw cash from their ATM. You do have to do some advanced planning to make sure you have enough money on hand for your purchases. The upside is that you can use most ATMs to get money, just remember that if it is not your bank’s ATM, you’ll likely face a fee when you withdraw your cash.

Use a Credit Card 

Some people are nervous about using credit cards due to their high-interest rates and detailed fine print. However, if you pay off the balance each month, you won’t incur interest charges. You’ll also build credit, which is handy when you start looking to make larger purchases, like a home. Also, many credit cards have great rewards like airline miles and cash back options, and who doesn’t want some extra green or to fly away to a bucket list destination? 

Credit cards are a very secure way to pay. You can keep track of your spending easily. If you’re looking to avoid debit card fees, this may be a great option. 

Write a Check 

While not all businesses accept checks, most large retailers still do. The downside is that you have to carry them around, and they are time-consuming to write out and process at the checkout aisle. The upside is that they are a secure form of payment and if you keep a detailed register, an easy way to track your spending. Also, you won’t be charged a debit fee when you write one, so there’s a silver lining. 

Use Electronic Checking 

Most banks don’t charge a debit fee to use their electronic bill pay option. 

Upgrade Your Account or Switch Banks 

Some banks waive debit card fees when you have a “premium” account, or meet predetermined criteria. For example, some banks have an average daily balance to meet or require you to make a certain number of “debit” purchases a month to avoid the fee. Look at your bank’s requirements and consider your personal situation, but upgrading accounts may work to avoid the fees. 

In addition, you may consider switching banks. 

Large banks with more than $10 billion in assets were affected by the “Durbin amendment” that limited debit card interchange fees banks could charge merchants. Due to this, large banks are more likely to charge debit use fees. Smaller banks and credit unions are less likely to charge those fees.   

Pay with Your Smart Phone 

You don’t need to carry a card of any type if you use your phone to pay. Mobile wallet services make in-store purchases, paying merchants, friends and family back and even foreign money transfers as easy as a tap or swipe! 

Services like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay allow you to pay merchants without incurring debit card fees.

Mix and Match 

As they say, variety is the spice of life. It also works when managing your money. Using a few of these options will likely make sense for most of us. You always find places that only accept cash, so you can’t get away from carrying some, and the other options all have upsides to consider. 

The way we pay is always evolving. If you’re looking to avoid debit card fees, find an option that works for you to stop seeing your hard earned money wasted.

Vicky Warren

Vicky Warren

Vicky Warren, once a nurse, now a freelance healthcare writer and social media coach.

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Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.



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