Capital One: Pick Which Monthly Fee You Want To Be Stuck With Or We'll Pick The Highest One For You

What’s in your wallet? If you currently have a free checking account at Capital One, you may soon have a bit less in your wallet every month, as the bank rids itself of freebie accounts.

We’ve received complaints about this change from a number of CapOne customers in the last two days, as they began receiving letters and e-mails telling them:

Your checking account is changing, and you have some new options. You’ll need to make an important choice before 6/5/2012 and select a new checking account from the list below.

They are then given three options:
Premier Rewards:
* $14.95/month fee
* or keep an average monthly checking balance of at least $1,500
* or maintain an average monthly combine balance of $3,000 or more across checking, savings, Money Market and CD accounts
* or make a single direct deposit of at least $1,000 each month

Rewards Checking
* $8.95/month fee
* or keep a minimum daily checking balance of $300
* or make a single direct deposit of at least $250 each month

High Yield Free Checking
* No monthly fee
* but you must maintain a minimum monthly balance of $5,000 combined across checking, savings, Money Market, CD and brokerage accounts
* or have a Capital One home loan in good standing

Consumerist reader Mark showed us his copy of the letter, which alerted him that if he didn’t pick one of these three options by the June 5 deadline, he would automatically be put into a Premier Rewards account.

“We’ve based this decision on how you’ve banked with us in the past,” reads the letter, though that doesn’t match Mark’s description of how he’s been using his free-checking account at CapOne for several years:

Every two weeks, $550 is directly deposited into that account to pay my fixed-amount, recurring monthly bills. I do about five transactions per month, and the balance never goes much above $1000. I write a check every three months or so, and deposit a check even less often.

So in spite of the fact that he doesn’t meet the minimum average balance or direct deposit requirements, Capital One thinks he should be put into the higher-tier checking account?

He could opt for the lower-tier checking account, as his deposits and balance would cancel out $8.95/month fee, but why should he have to worry about that nonsense?

Explains Mark:

I’ll be closing my account. Unlike most of the free world, I haven’t had any issues with Capital One before this, but this really bothers me. If they said they were just converting everyone to the Premium Rewards account, it would annoy me, but I could live with it.

The fact that they lied and implied that their choice for me was somehow the best option–that’s entirely different.

But wait! What about the double rewards I can earn on the Premium? Their rewards are based on number of transactions, not total dollars spent. In five years I’ve accrued about $100 worth of rewards. Doubling that still doesn’t come close to covering the $15/month I’d pay for the privilege of banking with them.

Making matters even worse for Mark is that while he’s been keeping the CapOne account as a convenience, he has been doing the majority of his banking through ING Direct… which was recently acquired by Capital One.