Overdraft fees have always been an unnecessary expense that tends to hit the hardest on those who can least afford them. And sadly, things only got worse during the pandemic. Fees hit record highs in 2021, with average overdraft fees hitting just over $ 33.

But while banks can charge a lot if you overdraft your account, which means you’re trying to spend more than the available balance, there are ways to avoid these charges. Here are some tips to help you do that.

1. Keep a cushion in your account

An easy way to make sure you avoid overdraft fees is to keep extra money in your account.

If you have a few hundred or a few thousand dollars extra in your bank account (depending on your income and usual expenses), it’s much less likely that you’ll miss a check by mistake or make too many purchases and end up becoming negative. and get hit by overdraft fees.

Of course, not everyone can afford to leave a lot of extra money in their checking account, especially if you don’t earn any interest on the account. But, if you have even a little more to check, it could potentially save you costly fees that worsen your financial situation.

2. Track your checks and transactions

Keeping track of all your expenses and income could also help you avoid overdraft fees. If you know exactly how much has been put into your account and how much you will be withdrawing from it, you won’t make a mistake that leaves you overdraft.

If you take this approach, be sure to factor in any automatic payments that come out of your account, especially periodic payments which only occur quarterly or annually and can be easy to forget.

Online verification and mobile banking apps make it easier than ever to keep track of deposits and withdrawals from your account. But, if you’re writing checks that people or businesses don’t cash for a while, you’ll still need to manually track them so that a late cleared check doesn’t surprise you.

3. Choose a bank that does not charge overdraft fees

The first two approaches require you to avoid overdraft fees. But if you are short on cash and have a busy life, it can be difficult to stay on top of things and you don’t want to make a costly mistake.

The best and easiest way to make sure you are not affected by overdraft fees is to choose a bank that does not charge them. A growing number of financial institutions, especially some online banks, have waived these fees. Prioritizing the promise of no overdraft fees as a feature might help you never have to worry about overdraft fees again. Just make sure you read the fine print and confirm that there really are no hidden charges.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to keep track of the money in your account even with no overdraft fees to worry about so you know what you have to spend. But not having to pay big fees because of a simple mistake could be a huge advantage. Make sure you know your bank’s rules and find the right one for you.