With debit cards, personal checks, and automatic payments it can be easy to lose track of your account balance. And if you accidentally spend more money than you have available, you could face hefty overdraft fees from your bank. A typical overdraft fee is around $36 and additional charges can add up if the account remains overdrawn for multiple days.
What can you do?
We want to help you avoid overdraft fees so the money stays where it belongs – in your account. Our team has compiled several ways to help you stay ahead of the fees.
- Keep a register – A transaction register where you record all your daily withdrawals, checks, and debits can help you track your account balance. This can be a paper register, an excel sheet or even your mobile app, it doesn’t matter what form you use. The important thing is that you use it.
- Monitor your balance – With online and mobile banking it is easier than ever to monitor your account balance by logging in to your account to check the balance, activating the quick balance feature on your smart phone or watch, and/or setting up text alerts. Make a habit of checking on your accounts regularly, at least once a week and before any large purchases. If you don’t use online banking, that’s ok too. You can easily check your balance at the ATM, using your bank’s 24/7 automated telephone banking, or stopping by your bank branch before making any large purchases.
- Set up low balance alerts – Sometimes you need a little help watching your balance. For our customers, we send alerts via email or text when your account balance reaches a set amount. You can also get alerts when large transactions are made. This can be a great way to help monitor your account so you aren’t faced with any surprises. To enroll in Text Banking, talk to your representative or check out VNB’s Text Banking Page online.
- Use online Bill Pay – With paper checks or 3rd party automatic payments you may not know when the money will be withdrawn. It could be weeks before your check is cashed, and if you’re not monitoring closely you could be unprepared for that withdrawal. If you use Valley National Bank’s Bill Pay system you can set the payment date and monitor exactly when payments will hit your account. This puts you in control of your finances and gives you the chance to check your balance before payments are made.
- Build in a buffer – Building in a small buffer to your account balance can protect you from accidental overdrafts. Most people pay closer attention to large purchases, so it’s the small ones that typically slide by, but even a $10 overage will trigger fees. If you deposit a little extra in your account, something like $50 or $100, it can protect you from overdrafts in these circumstances.
- Consider overdraft protection – A formal approved overdraft line of credit. Overdraft protection can help you avoid potential overdraft fees.
- Get on top of overages – If you do happen to overdraw your account, it’s important to transfer or deposit funds as soon as possible to bring the account back in balance. In some cases, you may be charged additional fees if the account is left with a negative value for multiple days. Talk to your bank representative if you need help correcting your account balance.