Coming from the “Y Generation” I tend to not open my mail on a daily basis. It has nothing to do with who it is coming from, I just hate paper. If this is of an important matter call me or email me, plain and simple. Not opening your mail can have a negative effect though, which leads me to my next topic, bank service fees. As soon as next week and in some cases February 1st, banks will begin to charge fees for banking at their financial institution. There will be ways to avoid these service fees such as using your credit card (through that bank) at least once a month, having a minimum balance requirement, setting up a direct deposit, transferring a minimum amount to a savings account from a checking account. Sure many consumers meet many of the mentioned requirements but again this is a list from various banks and your bank may not offer these requirements. In the past having debt was a good thing for banks because it meant you weren’t going to leave and you were entitled to the best account the bank offered. This will end as well, banks will no longer use debt as qualifier for balance requirements, hence the requirement for specific minimum balance relationships i.e. deposit assets only, no more credit card balances, no more auto loan balances, no more mortgage balances, no more home equity loan or line balances, again liquid and investment balances only. As tough as times are the minimum balance requirements are ranging from $1,000 in checking to as much as $50,000 to avoid service fees. As low as interest rates are who wants to keep that much money on hand for twenty five basis points worth of interest?
RELAX! Before you go ahead and jump the gun to immediately close your account, I would first check your latest bank statements, online or paper statements, to see if you are receiving fees now. I was a victim of service fees for many months and this was before the Dodd Frank Act. I had a direct deposit set up through my employer and it has always been this way forever, but the bank changed their requirements and I didn’t read my mail so I was unaware of this. I went into the bank and the banker credited all the fees back to my account because I met one of the requirements for a new type of product and I was upgraded into the new account. This may not be the case for you. What bank wants to give you money back especially if they have been sending you notices through the mail? It is up to you to take action NOW before it is too late.
If you may start receiving fees I advise you to “shop around” for a new checking account. There are many banks all over the United States that still offer “free” checking with minimum requirements that may suit you better. Service fees will range from as little as $5 to as much as $30 per month. I don’t know about you but $30 is a small life insurance policy, who wants to pay that for owning a checking account at a bank? I don’t. If you will not get hit in service fees you will definitely get hit paying ATM fees. These fees range from $1.50-$3.00, try your best to find your home ATM (aka your banks ATM), if you cannot, try to find an ATM that doesn’t charge a hefty fee to use their ATM. You don’t want to end up spending $6 for $20 in cash. My best advice is to go to your local drug stores or pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens. Buy a pack of gum and get cash back for your purchase, it is the cheapest way right now, why not take advantage of it while it is still FREE?! If you are young like myself maybe having an online bank such as ING (ingdirect.com) and Ally (ally.com) would suit your needs because these banks offer checking with no service fees and we are online majority of the day, at the click of a button you can manage your account. Consider switching to your LOCAL banks, such as credit unions and savings banks.
One of my favorite banking sites is bankrate.com. You can find virtually any banking information in your town at the click of a button. It talks about the latest bank news, as well as the highest interest rates and where to deposit your liquid assets.
If you have any questions about your current checking or savings account I would call your local branch or stop by for assistance. Do not call your customer service number because they want to get you off the phone as fast as possible to get to the next customer. Spend time with your local banker it is their job to assist you no matter what type of balances you may hold at your bank.
The only way to be prepared for the new account requirements is to take action now.