Why You Always Need to Check Your Statements

by David Ning · 15 comments

It is not what you expect but what you inspect. I noticed that my Wells Fargo basic business account charged me a $12 “monthly service fee” when I was looking over my statement. Apparently, in order for the fees to be waived, I need either:

  • a $6,000 average balance (calculated per day) or
  • be enrolled with their merchant services (the cheapest plan is $30 a month) or
  • business payroll transaction

Since I have no employees, don’t want to pay $30 a month to save $12 and will never put $6,000 in a checking account earning no interest, it sounds like it’s time to find another option.

To give Wells Fargo some credit though, I spoke with a banker and he told me not to worry too much about the fees because he will waive them manually for me. The bad part? I have to ask them every month.

The hour visit to my bank sparked me to look at my other Wells Fargo accounts. To my surprise, I found two monthly bill pay fees for $6.95. Again, they manually waived those fees for me and helped me call another department to have the “feature” canceled since I haven’t used it since 2007 (currently, I use FNBO Direct’s bill pay feature because I can keep my money in a savings account until last minute).

When was the Last Time You Checked Your Bank Statements

I didn’t appreciate Wells Fargo charging me these fees without notification at all but I’m thankful that the banker was nice enough to waive them. If I never check my statements, I would be short $18.95 ($12 + $6.95) every month. Since the weekend is coming up and you should have some time, why don’t you check your statements?  Just pay special attention to:

  1. recurring charges
  2. any line item that has the word “fee”
  3. checks that don’t have a description

It really doesn’t take that long but the exercise might help you recover some lost money. If you do find erroneous charges though, remember to be polite and nice to the bank representatives because he/she:

  1. is there and have the ability to help you.
  2. wants to help you (to keep your business)
  3. doesn’t want to charge you a fee if they had a choice (it really doesn’t help them to charge you money)
  4. is already having a bad day worrying about their job security with all the banking turmoil
  5. most likely lost more money than you have in the stock market as they probably own more banking stocks than you do.

Note: I wrote the last few points because when I was at the bank, I saw a gentleman laid out all his frustration on a very young (and probably fresh on the job) banker. We are all frustrated when we talk with customer service reps but we should always stay calm. NO ONE deserves to be yelled at just because of their position in the company.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • bank checks says:

    Just another great reason why you need to check your statements diligently.

  • Meaghan says:

    This is absolutely true. I haven’t had issues with the bank, but I have had problems with credit card statements. Make sure you read everything in the statement. They like to change your percentage rate, adjust your payment date, and enroll you in a program with just one quick sentence at the end on your statement.

  • Make Extra Money by Guest Blogging says:

    Exactly same happened with my bank, and I did not realize it until I checked by bank statement. Since then, I have made it a practice to check bank statement on last Sunday of every month

  • PerfectMOney Share Idea says:

    This is what a called “the power of blogger”-Reading this post I comment-this what many institutions should afraid of.If I imagine my self “now as”wells Fargo”I believe I need to repair the system that has been disappointed “one blogger”immediately.cause one disappointed blogger could infect other thousand reader and thousand feed follower and twitter fans of his.for you MoneyNing my appreciation is for your direct “attack” to wells Fargo,and for wells Fargo this message certainly will make me “stay away from you.

  • Erica Douglass says:

    I switched everything from Wells Fargo to WaMu last year. Even knowing that WaMu was going to go under, the lack of fees was worth it for me. I now have one personal and two business accounts at WaMu and couldn’t be happier. (I do keep a separate savings account over at ING just in case, but that doesn’t have any fees either.) When WaMu tanked, I didn’t even lose access to my money.

    I really do like WaMu.

    -Erica

  • MoneyNing says:

    Cheryl: Wow that 4 year error is scary. Just another great reason why you need to check your statements diligently.

    Thanks for sharing everyone.

  • Cheryl says:

    My hubby called our credit union asking why we were paying a monthly fee when we were told that if we maintained a certain amount in our accounts there would be no fees. Come to find out that we had been set up on the wrong kind of account for the last 4 years. We promptly switched over to the right accounts.

  • Studenomics says:

    I once went through a few month period where the bank was killing me with monthly fees. I was finally able to negotiate a student contract which in turn made the fees more reasonable.

  • UH2L says:

    This is why I use credit unions exclusively. Lower fees, better rates and even a year-end dividend at one of my credit unions. Plus, they didn’t get involved in all those predatory lending practices.

    As for paying late fees on credit cards, what I’ve done is set up an auto pay to pay the minimum amount at each due date in case I forget. (My NWA US Bank card isn’t so forgiving on late fees, only got one of two of them waived.) Then I manually pay the rest on-line right before the bill is due. That way, I never pay late fees and I don’t pay the majority of my bill until I check the statement.

  • Play Games Win Prizes says:

    I have had 3-4 late payments or fees from stupidity or from paying a little too late. Just a simple e-mail to the CSR online and they credited me back 🙂

    They would rather have you than lose you.

    -Mike

  • Eves says:

    It seems like the best option is just to have direct deposit into the account. 🙂 I hardly ever check my statements – I bank with orange country teacher’s federal credit union which is now schools first federal credit union and I really like their service. I’ve never been charged.

  • MoneyNing says:

    ColombianCoffee: Great tip. I must say that not checking my statement is my fault though even though I feel that Wells Fargo should have sent us some type of notice.

    Roxy: Can you share why you still pay with checks? I use bill pay now (free ones via online savings accounts) and I love it. It’s easier, quicker and more organized.

  • I work for a big bank that charges fees like you spoke of. Essentially they did notify you, but it was in small print somewhere.

    The way we do those fees is we charge them to everyone, andthen reduce them for most of the people that ask. It’s backwards I know, it’s embarassing as a representative of the company.

    I check my statements religiously, I don’t trust any bank to not try and slip something by me.

  • Roxy says:

    I check my credit card and bank statements every month, and I still pay by check. Identity theft starts with a small $10-$20 purchase/withdrawal that can easily be overlooked.

  • ColombianCoffee says:

    I have all my accounts on mint and have a “budget” of $0 set for fees, so every time a fee pops into any account I get an immediate email. That saves me from accidentally missing one

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