Financial Advisors: New ways to save your money: Be smart about how you pay
These days, you can charge just about anything with a major credit card. But some non-plastic payment methods may allow you to get more for your dollar - and keep more of your hard-earned money in your local economy.
Here are a few times you may be paying extra or accepting unnecessary limits on your payment freedoms, and how to avoid them:
* ATM fees. You may knowingly be paying ATM fees, but you might be wise to select a bank that offers unlimited free withdrawals.
* Transaction fees. You should be aware of credit card fees that accompany certain transactions. Use cash or a personal check if credit card fees apply to a purchase you're making. Businesses often have to pay a fee for card transactions, so you support your favorite stores more if you pay with cash or personal check.
* Interest rates and annual fees. Credit cards can be a great way to build credit and earn benefits, but if you aren't keeping your balance at, or close to, zero, you are losing out big-time by paying interest. If you're having trouble keeping your credit card balance down, you may want to consider sticking with a card attached to a checking account and your checkbook.
And here's the biggest surprise: How popular personal checks still are. In fact, 18 billion checks are still processed every year in the U.S. alone -- making checks the most frequent form of non-cash payment in America.
Many Americans still prefer having the option to pay with check as well as with credit or debit cards, according to a recent survey conducted by public affairs firm Ipsos on behalf of Deluxe Corporation. Seventy-five percent of consumers said they should have the right to pay with whatever method they wanted when making a purchase at a store - including cash, card or check. Thirty-eight percent of consumers surveyed would consider walking out of, or not returning to, a store or restaurant if that business refused to accept their checks as payment. And one-fifth of consumers say that a sign in a store which says "We Do Not Accept Checks" is an example of 'bad customer service.'
A new consumer advocacy campaign, "Stand Up For Your Right To Write Checks," is underway to preserve your option to use checks as a form of payment at www.righttowritechecks.com.
Whatever your preferred method of payment is, by paying a little closer attention to your buying methods, you can end up saving a considerable amount of cash in the long run. .
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