It's just my desk, so there's no telling what you might find on it.

Is your bank stealing from you?

Yes, that’s a pretty strong statement, but the truth is the truth.  If a financial institution immediately starts charging its customers for services that had been free for years, they are now stealing from their customers… even if they do provide a “quick” notice.

Most of us are doing some serious struggling these days, and we need to save money everywhere we can; including in our checking accounts.  Many banking institutions, that offered free checking accounts or free check card use, have recently changed their tune.  This is due to federal changes that have recently taken place causing banks to scramble to “make up” the money.  Now, I don’t want to get into the legalities or the BS factor of what is going on (okay I do want to get into the BS factor); but if you’re interested in some of the changes, why they’ve occurred, and which institutions are involved, you can check out this MSN Money overview.  What are the changes?  New fees for checking and savings accounts, and also per use or per month swipe charges!

Basically, banks (those poor, poor banks) are trying to recoup some of their potentially lost funds due to previous federal changes.  Banking institutions used to primarily get their money from swipe fees and the interest rates on loans, but uh, not so much anymore due the economy, etc.

For years, banks have said, “Use our cards!  They’re convenient!  They’re freeeeee!”  Now, those same banks are trying out a different concept… charging for the actual use of the very cards they were begging us to use. Yes, various banks have decided to sneak in a little chargy chargy to see if we customers will accept it, and go on with our day.  Hahaha!  Sure!

A bank, that I’ve been with through four name changes, is in for a rude awakening.  They have also decided to join in on the financial game play, and have opted to charge $4 per month for using their check card.  To actually use the card!  They’ve also instituted several  “but if you do this and this, and then do that” options to allow the fee to be waived (as long as you continue to do this, that, and the other).  Some banks, Wells Fargo for example, have chosen to go the $3 route.  Others are going even higher.

Now, let’s keep it real… I know $3, $4, and $5 is not a lot of money in the scheme of things.  But, in the scheme of things, that’s a lot of money every month!  And it’s MY money!  So, the question is… Have you been affected by this recent banking trend?  If so, what are you going to do about it, and are you looking for alternatives?

I actually only use the afore mentioned bank account for specific automatic withdrawals such as car insurance. I also use it for the Target card because it isn’t a credit card, and the charges are immediately removed from my checking account while allowing me to still save 5% on my purchases. (<– money saving hint)  Even though I’ve been with that bank the longest (many, many years), it isn’t my busy account; so I consider myself lucky to be able to easily walk away, and not look back.  Sadly, I would have preferred to leave that long-standing relationship on my credit report.

My “busy” account is at a completely different bank, and they are not opting in on this practice. Not yet, anyway.  I use them because I save money and stress by having an account with them… An account that earns interest, gives me cash back, is strictly online (yikes!), and also has the best bill pay system I’ve seen.

Banks are not for everyone, and not every bank is for every person.  I’m not here to promote any particular financial institutions, but I am here to remind you that every little bit counts, and it adds up.  I’m here to remind you to check your mail, check your bank statements, and check around.  Just because this practice is becoming quite popular, doesn’t mean it has to affect you.  Make sure you haven’t missed a new disclosure in your mailbox.  Make sure you haven’t been charged this new fee without it being disclosed first.  Check around for a bank that offers what you want at a price you’re willing to pay for the services you need.  Consider using a credit union or a community bank instead.  You have options, and taking a little time can go a long way.

The good news is that a few banks are secretly considering doing away with these new fees if they get enough complaints.  Your bank may be one of those, so take to time to have a little conversation.  You never know… You may be able to save a few bucks!

Thanks for reading!

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9 responses

  1. Pingback: Saturday Sharing: Thieving banks, spammer letters, pit bulls as exercise equipment and more! | I shall be a toad

  2. My bank started with the $5/month charge for both checking and savings accounts. I got rid of the savings account. For the checking, if you use your debit at least 5 times in a month, they don’t charge . . . I most definitely use my debit at least 5 times in a month!

    It’s aggravating, but I choose my bank because of location. I can stand anywhere, spit and hit a branch of my bank! Not driving makes that very important.

    Like

    September 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    • Anita

      Hi, Dayle, and thanks for your comment! Considering your lifestyle/home situation, I think online banking would be an awesome option for you. Let me know if you’d like some info!

      Like

      September 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm

      • I have two issues with online banking . . . 1 – sometimes I have to deposit cash and 2 – right now my ex uses the same bank so my child support is automatically deposited into my account . . . if I switch anything, it will become an issue (you can give 1000 reasons why it *shouldn’t* be an issue, but I’m telling you that it will be :P) and I just don’t feel like dealing with it!

        Like

        September 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm

        • Anita

          Hey, I hear ya! I have CS going into the bank I’m leaving, and even thinking about changing things up frustrates me. Of course, CS can be deposited into any bank, but it is faster if it’s the same bank. Also (just FYI), online banks do fast transfers from regular banks, so it has worked well for me. I completely understand, though. I never thought I’d use a strictly online bank, but it has made my financial life much easier. I can also withdraw from ANY bank, and they credit my account any bank fees. I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think I’m going to let my CS go back to the state card they use. It’s a little inconvenient, but the money gets on the card very quickly, and I can take money from several different banks without fees. The only thing I don’t like about using an online bank is that I can’t deposit at any ATM. I have to transfer from another bank (which I love), or mail it in (which I hate). So, I understand about needing to deposit cash. Plus, I like the idea of being able to talk to someone face to face If I need to. That’s why I’m now considering one of two community banks. (i.e. no fees)

          Like

          September 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

  3. Of course, we know that banks have been ripping consumers off charging such high interest rates on credit cards and paying out such low interest rates on CD’s. Very well written and informative article, Anita! Thanks, Carolyn Holcomb

    Like

    September 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    • Anita

      True, this is a long-standing issue, but many banks chose to stop this practice for awhile by offering free accounts and debit card use. Now that they’ve sucked us in, the rules have changed again. What a surprise, right? Thanks for your input! 🙂

      Like

      September 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm

  4. I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

    Like

    September 21, 2011 at 12:20 am

    • Anita

      Nice to meet you, Aaron!

      Like

      September 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm

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