Explained: Bank accounts’ ‘hidden’ costs and charges

A man withdraws money from an ATM in Kigali. / Sam Ngendahimana.

Opening a bank account for the most partly signifies the start of a new era in a customer’s financial life.

With opening a bank account getting easier and seemingly cost-free by the day, few are aware of costs that they incur to manage their accounts.


It is also possible to also open an account that will not attract any monthly fees.


But often, there are some hidden charges that the bank will not tell you unless you inquire or have a keen eye. These charges are in some instances not detailed on the opening account or are at times seemingly too little to be significant.


Being aware of such charges will help you keep track of your banking costs and in the process save you money. It all starts with an understanding of the charges that banks levy.

Furthermore, with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, budgeting is already tight for the most population. That means that there is no room for additional charges.

Doing business lists the most common types of charges that any account owner should know.

Maintenance fees

Various reports indicate that many banks often charge maintenance fees, whether monthly or annually.

As an account holder however, it is important to be aware of your banks policy to be sure of how much is charged, how often and if it’s acceptable to you.

Overdraft fees

If you have overdraft provisions, your payments will go through, but it comes at a fee.

In simple terms, an overdraft allows you to access funds through a transaction account up to an approved overdraft limit. This means that interest is only drawn on the amount overdrawn. (When fees and charges are paid on time).

Alternatively it is equally important to be aware of the amount of money you have in your account at all times so that you are not charged an unnecessary fee.

ATM fees

Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card owners pay a fee when they use use ATMs that are not affiliated with their respective banks.

To avert the unnecessary fee however, it is important to use ATM’s that are either owned by or affiliated with your bank.

Misplaced item.

In most banks, it will cost an account holder some charges if they accidentally misplace items such as cards.

Banks will charge consumers to get a replacement card. Such costs will increase even more if the owner needs expedited shipping. The amount paid varies from country to country.


In the advent of technology, many banks are trying to encourage customers to practising online banking services.

This is done by charging a fee for every printed statement. Although it may not seem like much, a fee for each paper statement can add up over time. To avoid this fee, most customers have shifted to utilizing electronic statements.

Minimum balance

While it has not been very common, some banks do charge customers for going below a certain set limit. In this directive, customers are urged to review their bank’s policy to see how much money they must maintain in an account so as to avoid further charges.

International transactions

Traveling abroad often results in extra bank or card charges. An international transaction fee or foreign transaction fee is what a customer pays on purchases or cash withdrawals during your trip abroad.

These fees are usually a percentage of the purchase.  To prevent that, account holders are required to find out if a bank charges fees for foreign transactions and take options of cards that don’t charge fees.


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