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Money tricks to avoid (and treats to look out for!)

Even if it’s been a few years since you last were on the candy-receiving end of trick-or-treat, you know you still love this time of year. At a certain age we take our small pleasures where we can, and one of the sweetest treats in adulthood is unexpected cash. On the flip side, few things sting worse than realizing — too late — that you paid more money than you needed to. 

This goes for everything, but hidden checking fees and other nasty tricks that relieve you of your money especially suck. 

Kasasa® partners with local financial institutions across the country to offer a world-class suite of checking accounts that blend the best of seamless, online services and on-the-ground, community banking. 

This holiday season, consider an account that actually pays you, and doesn’t cost a thing. We have a few options that fit the bill: 

  • Kasasa Cash® checking offers a higher interest rate or dividend return. 
  • Kasasa Cash Back® is free checking that pays cash back on everyday debit card purchases.
  • Kasasa Saver® helps you build your savings automatically, account for your online and offline shopping, and ditch the megabank checking with scary-bad terms. 

Here are 3 tips to make your money work for you this holiday season with a checking account from Kasasa, and 3 common online checking pitfalls to avoid...

 

Trick: Too many fees!

These days you have to be extra vigilant to avoid the cleverly hidden fees that come with any online service. A lot of banks — especially the big, national chains — nickel and dime with monthly “maintenance fees” (a service fee, basically), and the kinds of fees that you didn’t know are applied until it’s too late, like a “Minimum Balance” fee for when you have too little, or an overdraft fee when you accidentally spend more than you have in your checking account. 

Add to that fees for using ATMs outside your bank, and your checking account can suddenly start to cost you money instead of helping you manage it. These kinds of fees tend to be hard to sniff out, so be vigilant and keep an eye out for anything that seems like an unnecessary charge  when looking for a new checking account (or managing your current one).

 

Treat: Zero-cost checking accounts, fee-free ATM withdrawals

Local, community-focused financial institutions, like credit unions and one-shop family banks, typically don’t charge you a sign-up fee or drop surprise fees on you down the road, when you’re most vulnerable. Megabanks charge a fee when your balance drops too low so they make sure they cover their end no matter what. Community financial institutions only thrive when you do. 

Transparency and reliability are what set local financial institutions apart from megabanks, and why they’re able to offer transparently fee-free checking services like Kasasa Cash and Cash Back. 

All of Kasasa’s checking accounts come with no sign-up fee, and no monthly maintenance fee. They offer free online banking and bill pay, paperless e-statements, and mobile banking — features other banks sometimes tack on extra fees for. 

Kasasa checking accounts also refund your ATM withdrawal fees anywhere in the country* — yet another fee a lot of us find out about too late.

 

Trick: Low-yield accounts

To be fair, there are plenty of fee-free checking account offerings with all the standard services. These checking accounts are perfectly fine — they keep your money safe and make paying for stuff convenient. If you’re not paying unnecessary fees on top, that’s great. Right? 

Depends on how much you’re getting back. There’s been a deep shift in how checking accounts operate in the market in recent years. "Checking" in the old-school, pen-and-paper sense was traditionally done only at brick-and-mortar banks; today, it’s a mix of small, community-oriented banks, giant megabanks, and online-only services that leverage a lower overhead to offer higher interest rates. 

Pay attention to the APY (annual percentage yield) on any prospective checking account — the higher that number, the better for you.

 

Treat: Rewards — they’re not just for credit cards!

Kasasa Cash and Cash Back checking accounts are tailored to your personal situation and future goals, but they both offer high rates and rewards for hitting your targets. If you thought cash back was only for credit cards, you were wrong. 

Kasasa Cash® offers exceptionally high interest or dividend earnings — it’ll generate more passive income for you if you have a decent chunk of money available to stash in a checking account. With Kasasa Cash Back® you get paid for everyday debit card purchases. This works much like a traditional credit card cash-back reward, but avoids all of the downsides of credit cards. 

Neither account costs you anything when your balance is low, but they reward you as your money grows.

 

Trick: "Benefits” designed to make you spend more

A lot of the big banks will advertise “benefits” for their checking account, like included digital payment software that makes it very easy to send money to peers and businesses. How convenient! 

Remember, though, that the same banks offering this convenient payment mechanism also make money when you mis-step. If your balance drops too low, you pay the bank. That’s where those hidden fees we just went over kick in. Caveat emptor — buyer beware!

 

Treat: A checking account helps you save

In addition to reward-focused checking accounts, you might be interested in Kasasa Saver®, an account for anyone whose main goal is to stack some savings. Especially if the whole piggy bank thing never worked for you. 

A Saver account is free — like all Kasasa accounts — and pairs with your Kasasa Cash or Kasasa Cash Back account to build your savings automatically, carving a bit off that (still very high!) interest rate and stashing it away for a rainy day. That money is out of sight, out of mind... until you need it.

 

More treats...

In addition to guaranteeing always-free checking, we work very hard to make sure Kasasa accounts are best-in-class checking services across the board. We also seek out partner financial institutions that share our passion for taking back banking from major corporations and putting economic power back into local communities. 

Kasasa believes in rewarding account holders and their communities alike. Our local partnerships with banks and credit unions allow you to support your neighbors and businesses. For us, that’s the biggest treat: delivering great checking services and watching community economies thrive!

 

* Amount based on every month you meet the easy reward qualifications, see your local institution for specific account details.

Tags: Personal Finance, Checking