How to Avoid Monthly Maintenance Fees

By Brooke Vaughan // November 18, 2020

How to avoid monthly maintenance fees

There’s no shortage of irritating bank and credit card fees. There are overdraft fees, the ones that always seem to kick you when you’re down. There are late fees, a minor inconvenience that could cause considerable damage if left unhandled. There are fees on ATM transactions, which are not so expensive in the grand scheme of things, but an irritant nonetheless. But one of the more frustrating, and confusing, fees is the one that dings your bank account just for existing — the monthly maintenance fee. 

When you signed up for a checking account at your financial institution, you were likely hoping for a safe place to store your money, somewhere you could easily access it with a swipe of your debit card or a quick ATM withdrawal. However, banks operate on human power, and those humans have to maintain your account, as well as any other perks associated with your account.

What Is a Monthly Maintenance Fee?

Some banks charge monthly fees to keep a checking or savings account open with them. These fees can often be waived automatically if you meet certain criteria established by your bank, such as setting up direct deposit or keeping a minimum amount in the account. 

Monthly maintenance fees typically range from $1–$30 depending on the institution. Cushion has analyzed more than $13 billion worth of consumer transactions, and these fees most frequently come in at $5 or $12. 

That means if you consistently pay monthly maintenance fees, you’ll spend between $60–$144 each year, and possibly more.

Why Do Banks Charge Maintenance Fees?

Not all banks charge maintenance fees. The ones that do, though, use these fees to cover any costs associated with maintaining your account, including add-ons such as overdraft protection, out-of-network ATM coverage, and other perks. 

Alternate Names for Monthly Maintenance Fees

Different banks refer to these charges by different names, so be sure to know what you’re looking for on your banking statement. Your bank may refer to them as:

  • Monthly maintenance fees or charges
  • Monthly service fees or charges
  • Monthly customer service fees or charges

How Do You Avoid Monthly Maintenance Fees?

Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid landing these fees. Depending on the institution and the type of account you have there, your bank may automatically waive the monthly maintenance fee if you meet any one or more criteria. These criteria typically include a minimum balance requirement, making regular deposits to the account, or connecting other accounts at the same institution and keeping a minimum balance in those as well. 

Cushion has found that, per user, the top U.S. banks that charge monthly maintenance fees are: Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, US Bank, and TD Bank. 

According to the banks’ respective websites, here are the requirements to avoid a monthly maintenance fee.


Chase

Chase Total Checking® charges a $12 maintenance fee each month, but will waive the fee if you: 

  • Make a qualifying direct deposit of at least $500 each month
  • OR maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 
  • OR maintain an average combined balance in linked accounts of $5,000 at the start of each day


Read more about Chase’s monthly maintenance fee waiver policy
here


Bank of America

Bank of America’s various checking accounts charge monthly maintenance fees between $4.95–$25. Depending on the checking account, Bank of America could waive the fee if you:

  • Make a qualifying direct deposit of at least $100 each month
  • OR maintain a minimum daily balance starting between $100–$5,000
  • OR maintain a combined balance in linked accounts between $10,000–$15,000 each statement cycle
  • OR are enrolled in Preferred Rewards
  • OR meet a certain age limit


Read more about Bank of America’s monthly maintenance fee waiver policy
here


Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo’s various checking accounts charge monthly maintenance fees between $5–$30. Depending on the checking account, Wells Fargo could waive the fee if you:

  • Maintain a minimum daily balance of $500 each month
  • OR make a qualifying direct deposit starting between $500–$1,000
  • OR meet a qualifying combined deposit balance
  • OR have linked your account to other qualifying accounts
  • OR meet a certain age limit


Read more about Wells Fargo’s monthly maintenance fee waiver policy
here


US Bank

US Bank’s various checking accounts charge monthly maintenance fees between $4.95–$24.95. Depending on the checking account, US Bank could waive the fee if you:

  • Make a qualifying direct deposit of at least $1,000 each month
  • OR maintain an average account balance of at least $1,500
  • OR also have an open US Bank personal loan, line of credit, or credit card
  • OR maintain a certain amount in combined personal deposits or credit balances, or have a personal trust relationship with US Bank Wealth Management
  • OR meet a certain age limit


Read more about US Bank’s monthly maintenance fee waiver policy
here


TD Bank

TD Bank’s various checking accounts charge monthly maintenance fees between $5.99–$25. Depending on the checking account, TD Bank could waive the fee if you:

  • Make a qualifying direct deposit of at least $5,000 each month
  • OR maintain a minimum daily balance starting between $100–$2,500
  • OR maintain a combined balance of $25,000 across eligible accounts
  • OR meet a certain age limit


Read more about TD Bank’s monthly maintenance fee waiver policy
here.

Can You Get a Monthly Maintenance Fee Waived By Calling Your Bank?

There’s no harm in trying. In fact, given the financial stress many American households are currently facing and the FDIC‘s response to pandemic-related concerns, financial institutions may be more willing to waive bank and credit card fees during this difficult time. 

Unfortunately, your bank is not going to automatically waive your monthly maintenance fees unless you meet the criteria. It is up to you to contact them and see what your options are. 

Here are some tips to increase your chances of getting a monthly maintenance fee refund. 

Properly prepare for the call

You should have the name on the account, address, social security number, and account number at the ready. Introduce yourself, and explain why you are calling. “Hello. My name is [your name], and I’m contacting you with regard to the recent maintenance fee charged to my account.” 

If you’ve been charged the fee but believe you’ve met one or more of the criteria that should have triggered the waiver, kindly tell them you think there’s been a mistake. 

If you’ve been charged the fee and have not met any of the criteria but would like to try to have it waived because you are in a tough financial situation, you can try leveraging one of these arguments: 

  • I typically meet the criteria to have this fee waived, but I am currently in a tough position due to COVID-19. 
  • I am a loyal customer who has banked with the institution for an extended period of time. 
  • I have multiple accounts with the bank, such as a savings account, business account, or another personal checking account. 


Be polite, persistent, and prepared to not get a refund every time

Although you may be calling for a refund, it’s important to remain calm and kind even if things are not going your way. You can still be persistent and ask to speak with a supervisor in a polite way. If the customer service representative is not budging, you might have to count this one as a loss and try to meet that criteria to waive the fee next month. 

Have Cushion get your fees refunded

Cushion’s ⚛️ Fee Genius scans your accounts regularly, catches pesky fees, figures out what is negotiable, and more. We provide you with all of the “what” behind fee negotiation so you only have to figure out the “how” of negotiating your fees.

And if you want Cushion to negotiate your fees for you, well we’re sort of geniuses at that too. To date, we’ve refunded our customers more than $10 million in bank and credit card fees. If you’d like to opt into our 💭 Fee Negotiation add-on, just flip the switch during sign-up or in the Profile tab of your dashboard.

Cushion helps you waste less money, save more, and live a financially healthier life. We monitor your bank and credit card accounts 24/7, find and alert you about pesky fees, let you know which fees are negotiable, which banks are cooperative, and can even automatically negotiate on your behalf.* To date, Cushion has secured customers more than $10 million in bank and credit card fee refunds—and we’re just getting started.

*Cushion only negotiates fees with high refund odds. We cannot guarantee any negotiations, a regular frequency of negotiations, or fee refunds—your bank makes the final call.