Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bank fees are in the mail

There has been a lot of talk recently about major banks claiming that due to recent government regulations, they will need to start charging maintenence fees to formerly free checking accounts.

Bank of America announced early January their intention to test out monthly fees on customers who only use the most basic services and don't carry a large balance. My local bank, Citizens Bank, sent me a letter saying that I would be assesed a monthly fee of $5 for maintaining a balance less than $500 in my checking account. I closed my account a couple weeks later.

Chase is insisting to anyone who will listen, "We don't want to raise fees on our customers, but unfortunately regulation is forcing us to do it. And as a result, some customers may end up unbanked." Except the bank recently posted a $17.37 billion profit for 2010. I'm not saying I completely understand the banking business, but it really doesn't sound like they need to pass these fees along to us in order to stay afloat.

The New York Times has a much more comprehensive article about this who situation, and it includes some advice for those looking to avoid these fees (like me, and probably you). One thing they mention is that as soon as banks started announcing these fees, ING sent out a letter saying that they have no intention of following suit. In fact, as an ING customer, they've been aggresively telling me that there will be no fees, and offering me some pretty sweet incentives to open new types of accounts. I'm happy with them, and their rates, and if my bricks and mortar bank decides to start dishing out fees (which I'm almost positive they won't), I may become exclusively an ING girl. For now, I'm just sticking with my ING savings accounts*.

Obviously, do what's best for you, but the best way to get out of a potentially expensive situation before it costs you is to know what's coming and know your options.

*If any of my readers does want to switch to ING, I can get you a $50 referral bonus--email me at findmefrugal@gmail.com.

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