Insights » Money Basics » Unlocking Banking Secrets: Avoid Hidden Fees Like a Pro

Unlocking Banking Secrets: Avoid Hidden Fees Like a Pro

With more and more banks and fintech companies talking about being upfront, the old-school secrecy in the financial game seems to be fading away. People want honesty in their money matters, and banks are trying to show their fee structures and give clearer terms. But, even with all this transparency talk, customers still get hit with surprise charges on their accounts and cards, and that’s usually thanks to hidden fees.

These hidden bank fees can be a real pain, from minimum balance charges to overdraft penalties. They’re like ninjas – you don’t see them coming until they’ve swiped some of your hard-earned cash. But here at CFPS, we’re all about keeping it real and fair when it comes to prices. That’s why we’ve put together a handy list of those sneaky fees you might find with European banks and some smart tips on how to dodge them or at least lessen the blow.

Account Maintenance Fee

You’d probably say account maintenance fees are not hidden, but we’d argue that. Many banks offer free accounts in exchange for meeting certain conditions, e.g. opening a savings account, maintaining a minimum account balance, or setting up direct deposits. So, if you fail to fulfil these requirements, you’ll be charged a fixed monthly fee on your account.

Plus, free standard plans often come with a very basic set of features where even a debit card is issued at an additional cost. We recommend you to carefully review the terms and conditions of your account to see if it’s really free and compare a few free plan options to choose the one that includes more useful perks.

Card Replacement Fee

A card replacement fee is paid when you request a new debit or credit card to replace the one that has been lost, stolen or frauded. This fee can vary from one European country to another, often catching cardholders by surprise. For instance, in France, card replacement fees can range from €5 to €15, while in Germany, they typically amount to €10 to €20. In Spain, you might be charged between €5 to €10 for a replacement card.

These fees are virtually unavoidable, as some banks offer free replacement cards but charge you for delivery, while others make you pay for a new card but deliver it for free. Sometimes both card replacement and delivery fees apply, which may add up to a hefty sum, so keep this in mind when choosing your debit or credit card provider.

Cash Withdrawal Fees

Although seemingly clear and straightforward, ATM fees have something to surprise you as well. First, banks may impose a combination of charges, which include fees for using ATMs outside of their network, foreign transaction fees, and service charges that can vary depending on the type of account. Second, some companies have seem-to-be-great offerings with free ATM withdrawals, but they are usually limited to a certain amount (e.g. €200) or a specific number of withdrawals per month.

If you handle large amounts of cash, pay attention to charges above free limits as they may be unfavourable, especially if they are not fixed and depend on the amount withdrawn. Also consider daily cash withdrawal limits as they can pose a great challenge to you when you urgently need a fairly large amount of cash – e.g. to pay your rent.

Overdraft Fees

Overdraft fees are charges levied by a bank when you spend more money than is available in your account, effectively overdrawing your balance. These fees are typically incurred when a transaction such as a debit card purchase exceeds the available funds, and the bank covers the difference on your behalf. Of course, you’ll have to pay back that difference afterwards by topping up your account or card, but you are also likely to be required to pay an overdraft fee if your overdraft plan doesn’t offer a fee-free allowance.

The amount and structure of overdraft fees can vary significantly across different European countries and even among various banks within the same country. For example, in the UK, overdraft fees have evolved with regulatory changes, shifting from flat-rate fees to more complex structures based on daily or monthly percentages. In France, banks may charge overdraft fees ranging from €6 to €8 per occurrence, while in Germany, these fees can be higher, often exceeding €10 per event. The variations in overdraft fee structures highlight the importance of understanding your bank’s specific policies and regulations, as well as being vigilant in managing your account to avoid these potentially costly charges.

Return Item Fees

If your bank doesn’t allow overdraft and you try to make a transaction beyond available funds, your transaction will be rejected, but you’ll probably have to pay a fee anyway – particularly, a so-called return item fee. This fee is charged to cover the costs associated with processing and managing the failed transaction. We recommend you to always ensure that there is enough money on your account or card to cover your purchase, as return item fees can add up and strain your financial resources.

Early Closure Fees

Early closure fees may be applied by banks when you decide to close a financial product or account soon after opening it. These fees are more common on fixed-term savings accounts or time deposits. For instance, in the UK, these fees can range from 90 to 180 days’ worth of interest or a certain percentage of the total interest earned, depending on the specific bank and terms of the account.

Even if your bank doesn’t charge any early closure fees, closing your account may still entail settling outstanding payments with the bank.

Minimum Balance Fees

To get the most out of your account, you might have to keep a certain amount of money in it or make regular deposits each month. If you don’t meet these requirements, you could miss out on bonuses or end up paying extra fees. For instance, some accounts only slap you with a maintenance fee if your balance drops below a certain limit.

Now, how much is this magic number to dodge the minimum balance fee? Well, it can be as low as €100 or shoot up to a few thousand euros. It all hinges on the kind of account you have and the perks it offers.

Incorrect Information Fees

These are the charges your bank might hit you with when they have to fix mistakes or inaccuracies in your account. This could happen if you give them wrong details for a money transfer or if there’s an error in your account records.

In Europe, the range of these fees varies. It can be anything from €10 to €50 depending on the bank and the complexity of errors they need to sort out. So, make sure you double check your details when you are making transactions to avoid these sneaky fees.

Say goodbye to hidden fees with CFPS

When it comes to fees, CFPS has got your back. We are on a mission to reduce those sneaky charges that seem to pop up everywhere. With CFPS, you can say goodbye to annoying monthly maintenance fees, overdraft penalties, and even card delivery charges. Plus, we offer low flat rates for ATM withdrawals and free money transfers between our users – no matter what amount of cash you want to get or send. So, if you’re the type who hates paying extra fees, CFPS might be the solution you’ve been looking for.


How can I avoid hidden bank fees?

To avoid hidden fees, it’s essential to read your bank’s terms and conditions, monitor your account regularly, and consider switching to a financial services provider with transparent fee structures, like CFPS.

Are hidden fees common in European banks?

Hidden fees can vary from one bank to another, but they do exist in many European banks. It’s crucial to research and choose a bank that aligns with your fee preferences.

What should I do if I’ve been charged a hidden fee?

If you’ve been charged a hidden fee, contact your bank to understand the reason and discuss potential solutions. Additionally, consider switching to a financial services provider like CFPS with a transparent fee policy.

How does CFPS stand out when it comes to fees?

CFPS is committed to reducing fees for its customers. CFPS accounts do not have a minimum balance fee, early closure fee, or returned item fee, making it a fee-conscious choice for many.

Are there any other benefits to CFPS accounts?

Yes, CFPS accounts offer a range of benefits, including convenient 100% mobile account opening, free virtual and physical Mastercard debit cards included in the standard plan, no maintenance or monthly fees, and a commitment to transparency in fee structures.

Can I switch to CFPS from my current bank easily?

Yes, switching to CFPS is straightforward. You can open a CFPS account online in a few minutes, transfer your funds, and start enjoying the benefits of a transparent fee structure.

Posted on November 13, 2023