Whether you're exploring banks for college students or working adults, deciding to open a savings account is a basic step toward becoming more financial responsible and saving for the future. As routine fees become the norm for traditional checking accounts at banks, it's worth asking how much it costs to open a savings account. While it may take some time and research to find a bank that won't charge you a penny for maintaining a savings account with them, the benefits of accumulating money in a savings account typically outweighs the costs involved.
Minimum Balance Requirements for Accounts
Some banks may require that you open a savings account with a minimum balance predetermined by the bank. Depending on the institution, minimum balance requirements for savings accounts could be less than $100 or more than $1,000 to avoid fees. In those situations, the cost of opening a savings account would be equal to the amount required by the bank to establish the account.
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In addition, some banks offer benefits such as interest only to accounts meeting minimum balance requirements. For example, banks may offer a higher interest rate for accounts with balances exceeding $3,000. Savings accounts holding less than that amount won't accrue promotional or preferred interest rates in that situation. Some banks don't require minimum balances, however.
Regular Savings Account Fees
The cost of opening a savings account may include a bank's regular fees for maintaining an account with their company, and fees can vary for the different types of savings options offered. For example, banks may charge $12 per month in regular fees for opening a savings account at their location. In some cases, banks will waive fees for savings accounts exceeding a predetermined balance to encourage customers to maintain fund with the bank. For example, banks may waive their monthly $12 service fee for customers with more than $1,000 banked in their savings accounts.
Banks may also charge additional fees for savings accounts linked with other financial tools. For example, customers may pay monthly or annual fees to have savings accounts linked with personal checks or debit cards. This will increase the cost of opening a savings account for some customers.
Transaction Penalty Fees
Some banks charge penalty fees for savings account activities that violate their guidelines. For example, banks may limit customers to six transactions per month on savings accounts to discourage customers from using savings accounts as checking accounts. A customer who engages in seven or eight transactions, such as debit card withdrawals, inter-bank transfers or writing checks drawn from the savings account, may be assessed penalty fees.
As with checking accounts, customers will also face fees should their account become overdrawn after withdrawals exceed bank balances. Penalty fees may also increase the overall cost of opening savings accounts for customers.
Opportunity Cost and Savings Accounts
Another possible cost to open a savings account is opportunity cost, since money invested in savings accounts doesn't always attract the same return as money invested in other financial instruments, such as securities or mutual funds. While this opportunity cost may not be significant for consumers who are just beginning to save money, individuals with tens of thousands of dollars may enjoy higher yields from more sophisticated saving tools. You can also consider looking for banks offering bonuses that can make it more appealing to save.