Those of you who have followed this blog for a while have certainly see that I am quick to expose how completely ridiculous bank fees have become. After new regulations affecting credit cards and debit card overdraft charges and swipe fees were put in place, banks have been desperate to replace billions in lost fee income. They have finally found the perfect source of revenue. To see this new source up close, just head to the nearest mirror.
Earlier this year Chase Bank began testing a $5 ATM fee. Five dollars! According to BankRate.com, the average in-network ATM fee in the U.S. is currently $2.33, and when additional fees are added for out of network the total jumps to $3.74. So a $5 fee is absolutely absurd. If you’re a financial guy like me, you tend to think in both dollars and percentages. If getting $20 of your money from an ATM costs you five bucks, that’s a 25% fee! If you’re lucky, you bank is currently paying you less than .2% on a savings account. That’s not 2% – it’s point two percent.
To add insult to injury, the largest bank in the U.S., Bank of America, has announced a new $5 monthly fee for a debit card! That’s right – you’ll be paying $60 a year for the right to access your money, and that doesn’t include account maintenance fees, ATM fees, fees to breath the air inside the bank, and so on. It’s Bank of America’s way of saying: “Thanks for the bailout, folks.”
Funny, isn’t it? Today folks are camping on Wall Street in protest, but we don’t see demonstrators marching on the Bank of America building.
So what can you do about it? Plenty! For starters, do some research, starting at BankRate.com and other consumer-friendly sites that allow for comparison shopping, just as you would do if you were shopping for a new pair of jeans. Drop Bank of America like a hot potato and head on down to your local small community bank or credit union that don’t charge outrageous fees. Look at internet-only banks and see if virtual banking works for you. Face it – with Bank of America and the other big banks, you’re virtually screwed.
End of rant.