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Four Sneaky Consumer Fees

Anybody who has bounced a check knows it is not just an embarrassing mistake; it’s an expensive one, too. Most people are careful to avoid overdraught fees, but here are some other fees you might be paying regularly and not even know it.

Anybody who has bounced a check knows it is not just an embarrassing mistake; it’s an expensive one, too. Most people are careful to avoid overdraught fees, but here are some other fees you might be paying regularly and not even know it.

Loan Telephone Payments – Many lenders are happy to accept payments over the phone in lieu of a check or online payment. Indeed, phone payments are a safety net if you forget a payment until its due date. But watch out. Lenders – Chase Auto Finance is one – may ding you with a processing fee of $10.00 or more.

Insurance Billing Expense Fees – For most, auto and home insurance is just another monthly bill. Or is it? Insurance premiums are calculated annually and, technically, are due in full on the first day of the year in which you will be insured.

Of course, insurers are happy to let you pay throughout the year, at a price of a few dollars a month. Pay your insurance premiums annually if you can, but not with a credit card. The interest you pay will be more than the billing fees.

Low Balance Fees – Do you have any investments of $10,000 or less to which you are not contributing on a regular basis? It might be time to clear them out – or at least consolidate. Most brokerages charge low-balance fees for non-IRA accounts below a minimum balance. Leave a small investment untended and by the time you remember it, your money may be gone.

Foreign Currency Exchange Fees – Though using your credit card overseas is convenient, it’s also expensive. Most cards charge a currency exchange fee of 3% – 5% for all foreign transactions. Additionally, there’s no way to know what exchange rate you’ll get on the transaction until you get your bill. Avoid the fees by using traveler’s checks or cash. Exchanging larger sums of currency at once can reduce the commission to 1% or less at large banks or exchanges.

About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.