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Tips to help you avoid extra bank fees

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It might be Halloween, but that doesn't mean you should be scared by mounting bank or credit card fees.  PNC Bank's Justin Sullivan joined Good Day to share some tips for avoiding unnecessary fees during the holidays.

Tips:
1.    Keep an eye on your accounts

2.    Use benefits of online banking

3.    Save records and your statement

What's the first step you should take to avoid fees?
Halloween is all about trick or treating.  But what you don't want is to trick yourself into some unexpected bank or credit card fees.  And there are a few simple precautions you can take to avoid some scary surprises that might pop up on your statements.

The first thing, really is to keep an eye on your money and accounts. 

•    Actively manage your accounts and know what your true balance is.  Don't rely on ATM statements or financial statements. Banks don't always know what outstanding check amounts, transfers or payments you may have, so it's important that you actively manage your account and take a real-time look at it, at least once a month.  We prefer more often, but if nothing else, at least once every 30 days.

•    You want to track your deposits, and make sure any payments are accurate.  You don't want any "ghostly" transaction fees sneaking into your statement without you knowing it.  Just be proactive and it will give you better control of your money.

Where should you look to get that bigger picture to help manage your money?
•    A lot of people use online banking as an option for tracking their money, whether it's in the bank or on a credit card.  If you're not currently using one, there are a lot of advantages to using an online portal (ex: real time tracking, danger days, budgeting tools to help forecast)

•    But even with online tools, it's helpful to speak with a banker to help you get the most out of the tools. Bankers can show you which tactics or strategies can be useful for better managing your money online.

•    For example, one feature with PNC, is you can set up alerts to tell you when your balance falls below a certain level, or if you have a bill that needs to be paid today, it'll send you a text or email. So there are tools and techniques like this available at most banks. And there are similar tracking tools for your credit cards as well.  So take the time to sign up for these useful online options. Either by going online or talking with a banker.

Why and how long should you keep the statements you receive online or through the mail?
•    It's always good to keep a paper or email copy of your statement for at least three years.  That's the limit we recommend for any audit that may occur or to verify information for financial aid.

•    If your bank or credit card company doesn't maintain your statements for three years, then you need to manually download them.  And if you receive paper, just keep three years of statements.


PNC offers several planning and budgeting tools online to help you better manage your financial future. Please visit www.pnc.com or follow @PNCNews on Twitter for updates and news.

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