As you made your New Year’s resolutions to dispense with debt and start on the road to saving, it appears many American banks made their own commitments to upping customer fees and, in the process, further padding their coffers in 2011.
In fact, according to a new article from The New York Times’ Ron Lieber, “Earlier this month, Bank of America announced its intent to test a number of different monthly fees for customers in some states, depending on the balance in their accounts or other relationships with the institution. Right before the new year, meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase informed customers that under certain circumstances it would add monthly fees to many of the accounts it inherited from the now-deceased Washington Mutual.”
Banks are justifying these fee increases by blaming federal regulators, regulators who, in reality are actually making fees lower, or, at least, as Lieber describes it, more transparent. And it seems it’s the banks own fault for these regulations, caused from customer complaints over excessive costs that drew attention to specific banking problems: excessive overdraft fees often many times higher than the amount of the actual transaction as contracts that forced merchants to pay even more for the privilege of accepting the bank’s cards. Overdraft fee regulation was the result, in addition to “a Federal Reserve proposal percolating that may allow merchants to pay big banks much less when they accept those banks’ debit cards.”
As Lieber put it, “All actors in this play do have the ability to improvise. And some of the big banks relied heavily on overdraft fees to hit whatever internal goals they set for themselves in their branch banking units. Chase [Bank], for instance, estimated that the overdraft legislation would cost it about $700 million a year. It’s also worried sick about the possibility of earning much less from merchant fees.”
So while the banks unapologetically attempt to pass their new “burden” on to you, it’s important to understand that you have options, including:
Choosing a New Bank
While many banks (and even credit unions) may follow Chase and Bank of America’s leads in applying new fees, many other banks will not. As Lieber put it, “…ING Direct, the online banking colossus, wasted no time last week in sending out gleeful notes reminding the world that it has always offered free checking in an interest-bearing account and will continue to do so.” Do some homework with your own bank, or, if they don’t provide the right answers, feel free to move on to an institution where your money can work harder for you.
Using “Pre-Paid” or “Reloadable” Cards
Companies like Green Dot provide consumers with an opportunity to avoid costly fees passed on for credit or debit uses with alternative plastic that has a Visa or MasterCard logo and works a lot like a debit card. Instead of getting these cards from the bank, Green Dot sells the cards online, which, for a low price (a cost and/or monthly fee), you can use in certain stores—many of them major chains—that accept them.
Regardless of the moves you make to find a way around bank fees, it’s important to understand that a bankruptcy can always provide a financial solution you want for a better financial future. And a qualified bankruptcy attorney is what you’ll need during the bankruptcy process to work in your best interests. The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation. Just call toll free to 1-888-234-4181, or make your own appointment online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button TODAY for a better 2011 and beyond.