New federal laws have hurt banks. There are now controls on
- overdraft charges,
- on credit card terms,
- on using your checking credit lines, and
- on business debit card purchase processing.
Due to these new regulations banks have lost 12 billion dollars.
But, banks are still charging you. They can charge you to use
- ATMs and to replace your lost ATM cards,
- for copies of cancelled checks,
- for paper bank statements,
- for phone deposits,
- for closing accounts that a no older than 180 days.
The list goes on and banks are busy thinking up more charges to make up for their losses.
Consumers can fight back. Here are some suggestions for keeping bank charges in check.
- First, choose your bank well. Credit unions have lower to no fees. Online banks have no buildings and fewer people as overhead so have fewer and lower charges. Independent community banks are also less aggressive and more customer friendly. (Check for a list of independent banks near you on line at the Independent Community Bank site.) One bank that will save you money is ING DIRECT—they have no monthly fees on their checking accounts and no overdraft charge, FREE ATMs, FREE BillPay, and are FIDC Insured.
- Do all your business at one bank. If you have your checking and your savings, and your loans and your credit card at one bank, as a good customer you have better leverage to negotiate fee charges and dropping fees.
- And, negotiate. For example, if you direct deposit, you can often have your monthly checking account fee waived. The important thing is that you ask. If you don’t, there will be no relief.
- Make sure you know about all fees. Ask for the fee disclosure and/or fee schedules at your bank. These may be pages long and hard to understand, but you can request that someone sit down with you face-to-face to explain them to you.
- Request a balance alert form your bank. They can alert you by text or email when you approach either a minimum balance or when you are about to overdraft so you can avoid extra fees.
The new federal consumer protection laws are a help, but consumers must also protect themselves.
Share and Enjoy