If you asked us to name the three categories that most commonly shock our customers when they sign up with 22seven, Bank Fees would definitely be one of them. Just ask Selwyn and Will. They were spending hundreds more each month than they thought, and certainly hundreds more than they wanted to.

The cure? Well, you might try one (or several) of these…

CHANGE YOUR BANK
Obviaaas. But, an option nonetheless. A different bank may have a product that suits you better than what your bank can offer. The down side is the hassle. And also, you may not hate your bank (a rare occurrence but not entirely beyond the realms of possibility, in theory). In which cases, you might just prefer to…

CHANGE YOUR BANK ACCOUNT
The easy way to do this is to try to find a human being at your bank and explain to it her or him that you feel you’re being ripped off and can they, perhaps, suggest an account that won’t cost you as much. Also, have a think about what you have and what you really need: Platinum accounts may make you feel like you’ve arrived but they tend to cost quite a lot, and maybe a Silver account will do very nicely thank you.

But these are obvious cures. There may be some less obvious things to consider along the way…

REWARDS
Some accounts come with loyalty programs, and what you lose in fees you may make up for in rewards (or vice versa). It’s worthwhile working out if you’re better off staying with, or joining, or leaving a rewards program, and what you might lose or gain by switching to a different bank or account that has, or doesn’t have, a rewards program attached to it. (If you’ve linked your rewards to 22seven it’s easy to see what you’re getting from them.)

FLAT FEES OR PER TRANSACTION
Different bank accounts are structured differently. Some charge you per transaction, others charge a flat monthly fee. Either way, it’s worth looking into what you actually end up paying – often those flat fees don’t actually cover everything you think they do. On the other hand, if you use your account a lot, paying per transaction may be costing you more than it needs to. (You can use 22seven to quickly see how much you’re using each account each month by doing a search for any account you’ve linked within a certain date range.)

MORE THAN ONE ACCOUNT
If you have more than one account with a bank, it may incentivise or reward you, for example with more competitive fees or a better interest rate. And a better interest rate may save you more money than lower fees do.

For more help, the nice people at Moneyweb have summarised a comparison of the major South African banks and their charges.