Six Tools to Keep Your Checking Account in the Black
These tips can stop overdraft fees dead in their tracks.
If your checking account balance has never, ever, EVER dipped below zero, this article is not for you. Seriously, pass on this one. However, if on occasion an overdraft fee unexpectedly pops up in your account at the most inopportune moment, read on because these tips can stop overdraft fees dead in their tracks:
- Record your transactions. It is so simple. Best of all, it works. Nothing keeps your bank account in the black better than keeping a running total of what’s coming in and going out. What was once standard procedure in mom and dad’s day is quickly becoming a lost art. If a low balance is your norm, it’s vital that you know what checks are still floating around and what auto withdrawals are coming down the pike, because those are transactions your “current balance” just doesn’t show you.
- Switch auto withdrawals to Zions Bank Online Bill Pay. Speaking of auto withdrawals, they can make keeping a running total rather tricky, especially if the withdrawal amounts vary considerably from month to month (think gas bill). If past auto withdrawals have put you in the red, consider switching to Bill Pay. Bill Pay provides more control in knowing when your money will be going out and by how much. Most banks offer Bill Pay as a courtesy to their customers.
- Sign up for Zions Bank electronic alerts. This is a great tech tool to add to your financial arsenal. This tool notifies you by email when your account reaches a predetermined balance, which you select. Of course, this tool is not a guarantee that you will stay in the positive, but it sure helps! Zions Bank clients can sign up for MyAlerts through online banking, or contact an online banking representative at 1-800-840-4999 for assistance.
- Opt out of courtesy approval. Yes, there are people who prefer to have their debit purchases approved even when their bank account can’t cover it. Plus having your debit card denied can be, well ... awkward. But if you don’t relish adding a $32 overdraft fee to the value meal you just ordered, you may want to opt out of courtesy approval. That way, your debit purchases will automatically be denied if you don’t have the funds. Zions Bank customers can visit any branch or call customer service at 1-800-974-8800 to make this change.
- Sign up for courtesy overdraft protection. If you’re just not the transaction tracking type and view occasional overdrafts as a nasty but normal part of life, consider applying for overdraft protection. It’s like getting a small loan to cover your account when it falls into the negative. There’s still a charge, but it’s a fraction of the cost of an overdraft fee. Zions Bank customers can apply at any branch or call customer service at 1-800-974-800.
- If you do get an overdraft fee, take care of it quickly and visit your bank. Don’t ignore an overdraft fee. If you do you may well incur additional daily fees — not as high but they do add up. Get to the bank and drop cash in your account, pronto! While you’re there, talk to the manager. Many banks will give you a courtesy refund if it’s your first overdraft in say, a year. There’s no guarantee they will refund the fee, but it’s worth asking.