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Goodbye, Free Checking?

Goodbye, Free Checking?

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 

pic credit: alist via Flickr

As some of you already know, I'm a pretty content Chase customer. I don't care what Jamie Dimon does in his downtime or which government is suing them over shady investment practices this week, all I know is my money's safe and they never screw with me. EVER. I know what you're thinking: "But JDA! They're evil!" Sure they're evil but they're also the guys who own the Fed so who do you think will have money when everything goes terribly awry? The guys who own the Fed, duh. Am I promoting Chase's bad behavior by entrusting them with my deposits? Please, we're talking pennies to their bazillions. They aren't looking to the starving writer to fund their misadventures, they've got the Dirty Fed and free money for that.

I managed to avoid banking completely for nearly 5 years. It's not easy and you end up losing quite a bit in time and effort to trot across town cashing your paychecks at whichever bank they are drawn on (that's usually free, something most Western Union check-cashers don't realize) and my paycard (direct deposit to a MasterCard) ended up costing me $1.50 every time I withdrew money and $.50 for each POS transaction. Not good. I gave up quite a few pumpkin spice lattes in fees just so I could say I was bank-free.

Of course I realized that this was just stubbornness on my part and gave in to Chase's promise of $150 to open an account. It's been several months now and I still have no major issues to report except for initially opening the account online and never getting my account number via mail. Online banking is convenient, Chase has completely taken over so ATMs are everywhere and they generally process transactions quickly. All good. Sure they have their Overdraft Nazi standing outside of the branch trying to catch me at the ATM and ask if I've made a decision on overdraft protection ("No thanks I've already declined it. Twice.") but other than that, I'm happy.

Now let's talk about the death of free checking.

Remember back in the day when banks would offer you a toaster to open a new checking or savings account? Those days are over.

American Banking News:

Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC) will begin offering free checking accounts to customers which only make use of it web services and ATM machines and don’t make use of branch services.

The Charlotte-based bank will be introducing an account on August 6th which won’t charge a monthly fee or minimum balance, unless the customer wants to visit a teller or receive a monthly statement through the mail, said David Owen, a senior vice president for checking and debit at Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC). Visiting a branch to make a deposit will trigger an $8.95 fee per month, he said in an interview with Business Week.

Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC) has tested the program in the state of Georgia for the last eight months, with more than one-third of customers selecting the account. Owen said that, “It has had a much broader appeal than we initially thought,” he said.

Wells Fargo has already cut out the free checking ahead of financial reform and I imagine the rest will follow shortly.  Who actually uses a branch anymore? 

 


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