Q: My wife and I have traditional IRAs with a big financial company. My wife has only about $17,000 in her account.

The company has started charging us $5 a month for a “low balance” on her account. This is in addition to $60 a year in maintenance fees. What should we do? We are about 3 to 5 years from retirement.

A: I think charging a $60 per year fee for a “low balance” is ridiculous — especially since you’re already paying $60 a year for maintaining the account.

Call the company and ask them to remove the fee. If they won’t, you should consider switching the IRA to another financial company that doesn’t charge as much, like Fidelity or charles Schwab or Vanguard.

You should be able to make the switch happen electronically, so there is no withdrawal on the account, and you won’t be taxed or penalized by the IRS.

Good luck, and thanks for writing.

Published: Apr 11, 2006