Goodbye, Free Checking?

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?

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


W.C. Varones said...

I like Schwab. They have free checking & online bill pay, and they rebate ATM fees no matter whose machine you use.

Schwab doesn't have as many branches, and you can't deposit cash. So if you're a stripper or a drug dealer you might want to use a real bank. Union Bank is pretty good for that in California.

Bill said...

I use a branch weekly (IBCP) . No "real paycheck" makes this a necessity .( Auto Payroll deposit mandatory by employer ). This in itself I find disempowering. I cashed a check for 28 yrs from my employer weekly . No more . IBCP 's fees , like all other banks ,are atrocious , ambiguous , and sneaky . I withdrawl cash each week enough to buy gas, groceries , date night funny money , and smokie treats (cigarettes ) . I have never used an ATM card . I like a no paper trail way of spending . Even for high end purchases- i.e. New kithcen appliances from Best Buy, new deep well by contractor , two car purchases in last 18 months , and contractor for new kitchen cabinets and counter tops. Plastic of any kind is just another way for powers that be to track what I am doing electronically . They can stick it where the sun don't shine . Each time I save up a grand in savings I withdraw it . Cash on hand , mine , not the banks . I WILL NOT contribute to their usury , nor use of my money to loan at 5% , when they pay me 1/2% in interest . Banks suck , to a man!

that's where I was up until a few months ago when I thought about leaving my job and needing a secure, reliable place to process payments.

I have 0 debt load so everything I buy is in cash (San Francisco is cash only) and I'm currently increasing my cash position so I can leave this dump and then dump the dollars left over once I get to the East Coast.

I hated the banks but didn't have a reason to once I needed to use them to advance my own goals. Chase doesn't fuck me and I get to get paid so it works out. And I have how many $1.50 ATM fees and $.50 transaction fees now in my pocket? Deposit ATMs are really convenient, I just stick checks in and suddenly there's the money. No fees. they're smart, they got a customer like me who watches how banks treat their deposits and I'm not pissed off.

I liked the convenience of a non-bank paycard but the fees got sickening and I'm a broke writer in the 2nd most expensive city in the United States, I need every penny. Chase doesn't charge me anything but I realized they do charge a $5 service fee on savings under $300 so I pulled all that and will just stuff it into short-term T-bills or even Ally to get a better 3 month return than my mattress. So what? You already know the system is fucked up, Bill, why not make some money off of it?

It's cash - only as good as you believe it is.

Fuck high end purchases, now is not the time to buy any of that. I have a PS3 and a flat-screen, both bought at bargains on the Internet. If you worried about funding one or both at full price I feel sorry for you.

I have enough "shit", it's "capital" I need more of.

does the bank really care about your bitch ass deposits? I speak only of my own. Like I said, Chase can't turn around $3000 of my money like it can $3 million of 0% Dirty Fed easy money so why do I care?

We call them "smoky treats" too.

Be smart, not angry and dumb. I use them, they don't use me.

elf2006real said...

If your mil or a vet, USAA. No ATM fees, they don't gamble with the milk money, and they have character. Only one branch as well.

I know Commerzbank was good on customer service as well - it's now TD Bank.

Anonymous said...

ooohh, you just burn my ass with that Chase account, Adrienne

3.01% on checking account with balances up to 25k. Just have to do 12 debit transactions, have one direct deposit or auto pay transaction each month and elect to get your statement via the web. Not too shabby for a checking account. Only fee is if you fuck up and overdraw your account - which is reasonable when you think about it - every working stiff in banking hates dealing with god damned nsf items.



OK, you find me a credit union once I get settled wherever it is I'm moving and I promise I will ditch Chase, how's that?

W.C. Varones said...


How do you pay 3%? Out here I can't find a CU paying 1%.

Does the CU get transaction fees on the automatic deposits or somewhere else on these accounts?