Is there any way to negotiate my checking account fees without having to change banks?

Absolutely. Here are some tips to get the conversation started:

  • Collect and total your fees and charges for the past 3 years, before you talk to your bank.
  • Make a written list of all your checking needs, such as the number of checks you write per month, the number of ATM visits, deposits, how many times you’re overdrawn, and how often you go below your agreed-upon minimum balance.
  • Do your research. Take the information you gathered on your checking needs and charges to several other area banks to compare their rates to your bank’s rates.
  • When you are ready with all of the above information, speak to the manager at your bank. Tell them you want to discuss reducing your banking costs. If they are unwilling to negotiate, bring up their competition (assuming their rates are lower.) If your bank doesn’t want to lose your business, they will negotiate. Ask them about other ways you could cut your costs, too.
  • Many banks give free or preferred rates to special groups such as seniors, students and mentally or physically challenged individuals.
  • If you do find yourself in a position to shop for a new bank, remember to check out smaller banks. They’re sometimes more willing to cut their fees to get your business.