So we meet again. I thought it would’ve been some time before we had this conversation but it was one quarter! (Financial Quarter) Back in February, I warned my readers of the service fees banks would start charging. I am here again to tell you that they found another way to start charging more fees! The economy is a mess, job loss is at an all time high, students can’t find jobs, adults can’t find jobs, people aren’t spending money, and because we aren’t spending any chance that we decide to spend we will be charged for it.
Bank of America (BofA) announced on September 29, 2011, that they will begin to charge debit card owners a $5 service fee for using their debit card. Back to day one we go! In the beginning, debit cards were a luxury item and if you owned one you were charged for it. Now that they have us where they want us, using the debit card like it’s going out of style, we now have to break another habit…trying not to use it. I can see this going two ways, one way can lead to financial ruin for those who aren’t disciplined enough. Two, looking for another bank that doesn’t charge a fee! That makes me very upset because if you’re anything like me…a person who just ordered two new boxes of checks for my BofA account, you are going to be upset because you wasted money. Granted they were $15 for both but $15 is half of a tank for me!
I say it can lead to financial ruin for those who aren’t disciplined because at the end of the day you do not want to pay service fees and if you do, we need to have a talk! You may turn to spending more on your credit cards where you have the option of paying no fees, as well as paying off your balance when the bill comes. But, there are those who do not do that and will end up in debt. We don’t want that either. The best option to me, right now, is to find another bank. In the past I wanted a popular bank so if I ever travelled to another state I would have access to my bank and I wouldn’t get charged ATM fees because I am using my banks ATM. Now I am sure most have seen the commercial where the guy is debating on paying a $3 service fee at a foreign ATM and if you haven’t, during his personal mental debate, he is encouraging himself to pay the fee because someone is waiting for him and they have plans. This is a case of poor planning. I listed a few ways on how to avoid debit card fees in the past but the best way to avoid this $5 service fee is to not use the debit card or switch to a bank where you will not be charged this ridiculous fee. Chase Bank and Wells Fargo are conducting test trials currently for this very expense. Chase has been conducting this for a few months in a few states however, their fee will be $3 per month.
So where do you bank? Well everyone has a different need when it comes to banking. As discussed in my prior post on service fees, you have to do your homework. Not all banks who advertise FREE checking have FREE checking there are these little things called asterisks *** that you have to pay attention to. Some know them as fine print, well read the fine print and don’t be afraid to ask questions. As a prior honest banker I read the fine print to my clients because I wanted to cover my behind, not everyone is like that and they will say when you come in for a problem, “Didn’t you read the literature I gave you? It says it right here (as they point to the brochure you probably have somewhere in your car).” Go do your homework at www.bankrate.com search for checking accounts in your area and find out which one is better for you.
Bank of America plans on putting these new fees in motion during the first quarter of 2012. Don’t wait until the very day before to start looking for banks. Avoid it now because once one bank starts all banks start. Chances are your account may be grandfathered into a product that doesn’t require you to get charged the fees.
Here are a few tips to avoid ATM fees now!
- Do not use your debit card on weekends and holiday weekends unless it’s an emergency! Most banks do not keep up with your spending so your balance on Friday will be the same on Monday. Then Tuesday comes and you have negative dollars or you have an extremely low balance. Best way to avoid this is by tracking your own spending or taking out cash on Friday for the weekend. Also, opening a checking account for spending money. I have one and it helps a lot! Know your own spending habits. I used to spend $60 on weekends so I know take out $60-80 just in case.
- If you know you did not plan ahead and didn’t take out cash before you decided to embark on a new adventure in your life and now you have to go to a foreign ATM (not your banks ATM), you can go to a 7-11, CVS, Rite-Aid, or a grocery store and pay for a small item; candy, a pack of gum, water, whatever but you can get cash back at most of these places up to a certain amount! Do this!!!!!!!!! You will not get charged a fee for cash back. It will just look like a normal purchase.
- Always use your banks ATM! This is key, key, key. I cannot express the importance of this. Banks are in business for banking on your money! Hello, they are called banks!! I am a customer of multiple banks because one has something the other one doesn’t. One bank charges me $2 for using a foreign ATM while I will get charged another fee for using that ATM. Don’t do this! If you do this often you will see at the bottom of your statements…fees for the month $37! I’ve seen it! Yet, you’re complaining you don’t have any money! I would promptly thank you for your business and ask you to leave my office.
- Lastly, if you cannot use your banks ATM please see #2. Thanks. LOL
Hope this helps someone out there in the world! I pray that you will see this and decide to help a friend too!
Read my prior post on Bank Service Fees!