AARP holds senators accountable for key bipartisan Medicare vote. Learn more


Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free

Contests and

You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation!

Hawaii, the Grand Canyon or an Alaskan Cruise! No purchase necessary. Ends May 31. See official rules.

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation
Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


8 Ways to Avoid Bank Fees

You need to be proactive to fight the fees nibbling at your money

6. Move to a credit union (or just threaten to). On Sept. 29, Bank of America and other banks announced plans to impose a $5-per-month fee for the privilege of using their debit cards. Over the next month, close to 700,000 people opened accounts at lower-fee credit unions, taking $4.5 billion in deposits with them. On Nov. 1, in the face of a public relations disaster, the $5 fee was dropped.

A recent report by consulting firm cg42 predicts that the nation's top 10 banks could lose $185 billion in deposits because of customer frustration in the coming year.

So if you're considering a move — or even if you're not — this might be the time to politely remind your big bank that it isn't the only game in town. New customers take note: Some banks now levy fees for closing accounts opened within the previous 90 or 180 days.

7. Go online. Online banks such as Ally, ING Direct and EverBank have lower overhead than brick-and-mortar banks, which can mean lower fees. Banking online with your current institution also may help you avoid increasingly common charges for paper statements.

8. Think small. While the big banks need to satisfy profit-seeking shareholders, smaller community banksfocus more on their bread and butter: keeping customers happy.

"It was community banks that offered free checking before it became fashionable," says McBride. "Many have been run by the same family for generations, and they built their identity by serving customers without nickel-and-diming them with fees." You can find community banksat this website run by the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade association.

Sid Kirchheimer writes on consumer affairs for the AARP Bulletin.

Also of interest: Credit unions: Pros and cons. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Credit safeguards with AARP® Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID®.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Man using cell phone outdoors

Members save on monthly service & usage fees and get free activation with Consumer Cellular.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.