Beware of the hidden fees on your refund card

You could hear the shouts all the way down the hall.”REFUNDS ARE HERE!”

Frantically, you pick up your cell phone, dial the “Chase Customer Service Hotline,” enter your info, and – bam – your money’s in. After you do your happy dance, praise “8 pound, 6 ounce” Baby Jesus, and so on, you’re ready to spend, right? Wrong.

For those of you who simply opened the package and activated your card, you may have missed some pertinent information. Of course, there’s the always, oft-skipped over privacy policy, but let’s dig deeper. In this economic time, we are all looking to save. So reading the “Cardholder Fee Schedule” is one way to know what fees come from using your card.

While most of you have probably already attacked the nearest Chase ATM available, it’s possible that you have already used one of the fee-free withdrawals. After using your card three times in one month, there is a $1.50 per withdrawal fee tacked on to every withdrawal until that month is over.

For those of you thinking outside of the ATM, even withdrawing all of your money from the Chase bank has a fee tacked onto it. The “over-the-counter cash withdrawal fee” is $5. Even trying to check your balance on an ATM has a fee attached to it, which is $0.50.

However, Chase does offer you some ways to save money. Withdrawing from a Chase or Allpoint ATM helps you avoid paying an ATM surcharge fee. Some Allpoint ATMs may show a surcharge screen, but clicking or pressing “YES,” you can avoid paying that fee.

Making purchases doesn’t leave you stuck with fees. So, for those of you who shop at stores that give cash back from the register (buy a stick of gum), that’s the best way to withdraw if you’re over your limit (three) for the month. Also, checking your card information on the web or by phone (http://www.myaccount.chase.com) will not induce any hidden fees.

Now that you have the fees out of the way, what about the card? One of the MOST missed things on most debit cards are the back. On the back, you are to sign your card to make sure it’s valid. However, if you want, you can write “SEE I.D.” on the back, which should make them validate that you are the owner of your card. However, most retailers tend to skip over that little tidbit, but that can help you if you have to file to deny charges you didn’t incur.

Now that all the information is out of the way, make sure you spend your money wisely. This is money that you OWE, so don’t splurge on things that aren’t necessary. Invest wisely and start preparing to pay that money back.