Should you fire your bank?

It is becoming more common for people to spend $25 in order to get $20 in cash from an ATM. Bank fees are being charged more than a professional bullfighter, and consumers are not happy. It may be time for you to fire your bank and find a new one!

Large banks seem to be out of touch with their customers these days, but a mass exodus will make them listen. The biggest news last October happened to be Bank of America’s enactment of a $5 debit card fee. The idea was that every time a customer used his/her B of A debit card to make a purchase, the bank would take out an extra $5.00. As a result of the policy working so well, Bank of America decided not to charge the fee any more starting in November. Wells Fargo, Chase, and SunTrust had all planned to enact a debit card fee (Wells Fargo even “tested” it in a few states), but they quickly backed out after the B of A debacle.

That was 2011, changes began in 2012. There are plenty other fees big banks are charging. PNC and US Bank charge $25 for customers who close an account less than six months old. Bank of America (what a surprise!) now charges $8.95 a month to “e-bank” customers who use a teller. From my own personal experience, Wells Fargo charges a $5 monthly fee to your “Way2Save” savings account if you do not make purchases with your debit card. And watch out, Canada! You’re not safe, either. The Bank of Nova Scotia is set to hike a fee for customers who go over the monthly transaction limit. Beginning in March 2012, this fee was set to go up from $0.65 to $1.00.

And don’t forget about overdraft fees. Large banks just LOVE to charge you money after they transfer money from your savings account to your insufficiently funded checking account. Moebs Services estimated that the average overdraft fee in 2011 was $30.00, $2.50 more than in 2010. The average number of household overdrafts went down from 8.2 (2010) to 6.7 (2011), and banks raised overdraft fees “to pay for the cost of overdraft regulation.” (In other words, customers were more careful in maintaining sufficient funds in their bank accounts, and banks wanted to reward these bright people by raising fees.)

Firing your bank may be something to look at this year, if you didn’t already do so last year. Opening a new account with a credit union may be the best thing you’ve ever done, and I’ll talk about how to do so in another article. If you decide to stick with your big bank, that’s perfectly fine. However, you may start having more complaints about extra fees in the near future.

David Pilley

David Pilley

David Pilley is a May 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a B.A. in communication studies and a creative writing minor. He is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina.

He played clarinet for the Marching Tar Heels in 2005 and 2006. He also volunteered for STV, the student-run television station at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the spring of 2010. He shot video, wrote scripts, and acted for “Off the Cuff,” UNC’s longest running sketch comedy show. He has the rare distinction of having lived in a dorm all four years of his undergraduate college career. He was also on Franklin Street on the night of April 4, 2009. His future plans are to pursue a master’s degree in journalism and to one day work for the media as a sports journalist or broadcaster.

Being one of eight children, David realizes finance is an important topic to everyone, regardless of his/her knowledge of the subject. His interests are in personal finance, budgeting, and savings.

In his spare time, David enjoys watching sports and standup comedy, as well as doing crossword puzzles and writing in the first person. He also thoroughly enjoys trivia and, one day, hopes to participate on the game show Jeopardy!, where he will try to break Ken Jennings’ 74-game win streak.
David Pilley

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