Experts all agree: when it comes to banking, fees are coming and they’re coming on strong.
Many people list banks as one of their most disliked institutions. Though they usually rank higher than Congress, used car salesmen, and meter-maids, banks have been backed into a non-profit corner by escalation regulatory requirements. Here is what many experts in the financial field are predicting:
- Fee increases and tough account requirements. Some banks are even charging customers to close their accounts.
- Higher loan fees. Just applying for a car loan can mean another fee tacked onto your principle balance.
- Higher penalties. Just step over that line once and you’re likely to get popped and popped good. Since less than 13 percent of Americans actually balance their checking account, it can be easy to harvest those penalties from customers and with the average non-sufficient funds fee topping $31, it can be a lot of money to harvest.
- Penalties for using a teller. At Bank of America, if you’re an e-banking customer and you use a teller – that’s a fee of $8.95 each and every month you do so.
- Lost debit card fees. Though Bank of America did rescind its decision to charge a $5 monthly debit card fee, it IS charging customers $5 for replacing a lost debit card — $20 if you want it rushed (neither of these fees existed until a few months ago).
- Out of network ATM fees increasing. The average fee charged by banks for using an out-of-network ATM has risen for the 7th year in a row.
Do you want to FIGHT or FLEE?
Both are viable options.
Fight your bank
First, check what the new fees are. Can you avoid them easily by signing up for direct deposit or moving some extra money to a different account? Can you withdraw more from your bank’s ATM and avoid the out-of-network fees?
Next, make sure you check your statements to make sure you haven’t been charged these fees already! This happened to me – I discovered I had paid over $20 in fees on a Christmas Club account because the balance wasn’t over $500.
Next, negotiate. Don’t take it sitting down, jump in there and tell them you don’t want to have to switch banks but you’re willing to go through the hassle rather than pay them more money … for keeping your money in their bank!
Lastly, consider consolidation. Do you maintain accounts at multiple banks? Would it make things easier and less fee-riddled if you consolidated your accounts with one bank and became more of what they’re now calling “a relationship customer?”
Flee your bank
Sometimes, no matter what the bank is willing to backtrack on, you’re just fed up and you decide to switch banks (Read How To Switch Banks in 6 Easy Steps). I won’t go through the entire process in this article, but switching banks isn’t that difficult, particularly if the new bank has a “SWITCH KIT” or a person on staff that can handle the process for you.
There are two ways to switch;
- All at once
Guess which one is easier?
The “all at once” route can be done (again it’s easiest with a switch kit), but it can be a hassle and banking shouldn’t be a hassle.
I’d highly recommend switching gradually. Open an account at a bank like
- PerkStreet (here you’ll get debit card rewards rather than fees!)
- Ally Bank (earn interest on your checking account!)
- ING Direct (no fees – not even an overdraft fee!)
- A local community bank or credit union
With just a little cash, say your grocery money or the money you’ve budgeted for clothing or gasoline, you can easily become accustomed to how one of those three online banks or your local community bank/credit union works. It will be much easier after a few weeks to transition more and more of your banking (and more and more of your money) to your new bank.
And then? You don’t really have to close the old account if you want to maintain a local bank for cashing checks. Just make sure you aren’t charged a fee or fees because of the amount of cash you maintain in that account.