Commerce Bank's Free Checking Now Requires $100 Min Balance

Shoehorned into a postcard proclaiming the waiving all ATM fees, Commerce Bank announced their free checking will no longer be free.

Starting April 12, checking accounts will now require a $100 minimum balance to avoid a $15 “maintenance fee.”

Because it’s ever so hard for the poor widdle bank to keep twack of your monies when your account is so smwall.

Not sure if this only affects New Yorkers.

Full scans inside…

Kinda like they traded one fee for another, eh? — BEN POPKEN

(Thanks to Rachel!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    Note that those free ATM fee accounts require a $2,500 minimum balance!

  2. mindshadow says:

    I’ve always questioned bank fees. Overdraft fees are a scam (wasn’t there an article here, or maybe it was Fark, that said it really only costs a bank about $2.00 when you overdraft?), and then they charge you for having “Not enough money in your account.”

    It seems more and more businesses are getting a sense of “We’re doing YOU, the consumer, a favor by letting you use our services.” Though really not much banks do these days surprises me.

  3. remthewanderer says:

    I have had a commerce account for several years now. I opened my account in southern NJ.

    My checking account had no minimum balance for the first year only. After that I needed to keep a $100 balance.

    I find it silly that a “no fees and no hassle” bank would try to make money off of minimum account balances. Seems very petty to me.

  4. codegrl says:

    My local bank charges me nothing in monthly fees, ATM fees (so long as the ATM that I’m using doesn’t charge a fee, but that’s a whole other post). When we called to transfer over to the free checking account they even refunded us that month’s $10 service fee. I’ll never use a big-box bank…I like the little man right now.

  5. Pelagius says:

    “Your account is so small that it’s hard for us to administer it, therefore we will make it even smaller.”

    This is how my Wells Fargo account went from $89 to $0 while I was backpacking around Asia.

  6. Brad2723 says:

    A $2500 min. balance for ATM reimbursments is ridiculous. So is a $15/mo maintenance fee. Especially when there are plenty of banks and credit unions out there that offer these services for free. The issue at hand is that banks are no longer a good place to save money, and they haven’t been for quite a while. They’re just places to keep your money safe until you need it.

  7. The Bigger Unit says:

    Hmm…having a minimum balance would possibly help prevent some overdraft fees (for smaller-ticket purchases of course); bank is sort of shooting itself in the foot, n’est pas?

    If people are broke and floating checks, then the bank can greedily snap up OD fees. Of course, now I guess they can get the best of both worlds of fees. Fortunately the consumer can make up the costs through 0.20% interest rates offered by brick and mortars!

  8. mac-phisto says:

    i’m going to do something i normally never do & side with the banks here. from experience i can tell you that low balance checking accounts are some of the most expensive accounts to maintain at a financial institution. the highest percentage of “dead accounts” – used only a few times/year, or not at all – are low balance accounts. some are even dormant & waiting to be escheated to the state. in the meantime, the FI must produce & send out a monthly statement (& any account updates), pay monthly fees on a debit card (no, they aren’t free for banks), & pay for online & bill pay access (if the features are offered thru a 3rd party vendor).

    a checking account can easily cost an FI $20 or more/month. they don’t mind providing it free as long as you are utilizing the service. levying a fee allows the bank to get dead accounts off the books & subsidize free services for customers that actually use them.

    besides, this is standard fare for many FI’s. if the fee doesn’t agree with you, try a credit union or an online bank (i

  9. acambras says:

    $15 sounds like a disproportionately large hit for having less than $100 in an account.

  10. Bob says:

    I hate minimum fees. Why not just charge you $100 to open the account? Since you won’t be able to touch that money again until you close the account years later.

  11. Scuba Steve says:

    Yeah I’m really feeling the Bank’s woes here.

    Those poor, penny-less, hardworking banks. It’s the people who are the bad guys here, people!

    //Oh I know, I can try a credit union! Oh wait, no.. buy law, a credit union must discriminate against me. Great!

  12. mac-phisto says:

    @Scuba Steve: i hear you man…i normally don’t stick up for the fat cats.

    you don’t necessarily need a credit union to avoid a minimum. INGDirect offers Electric Orange, which has no minimum.

    as for credit unions, CUNA estimates that as many as 92% of all americans qualify for membership at a credit union. but here’s news for you – many credit unions impose minimums too. i belong to 2 – 1 requires $25, the other requires $100.

    imo, there’s much worse practices out there, such as the practice of piggybacking POS fees into a debit purchase.

  13. acceptablerisk says:

    I see these posts about shady banking policies and I realize that I take for granted having an account at a decent credit union. I’ve had an account at my local credit union since I was sixteen years old and I’ve never had to pay for my checking account or debit card. The only requirement is a $25 balance in my savings. On top of it all, I get a fairly decent rate on my savings.

    Why do people even conduct business with these places when there are places that are so much better?

  14. Indecision says:

    @Brad2723: “A $2500 min. balance for ATM reimbursments is ridiculous.”

    You do realize that they’re reimbursing you fees that they did not charge you, right? If you have $2500 in the bank, they’ll refund you other banks’ fees. The only thing that seems ridiculous to me is that Commerce would even offer that in the first place, but they do.

  15. Havok154 says:

    I love it when banks charge you money because you don’t have any money to put into your account. That’s about on par with kicking your customer in the nuts as they walk out of the hospital after getting a vasectomy. It’s something that’s both cruel and also shows complete disregard for someone who decided to do business with you in the first place.

  16. ord2fra says:

    Love my credit union! Only $5 to open an account, no minimum balance, savings and checking linked, and I can split up my paycheck to go to several accounts (15% goes to savings without me having to touch it, car note and mortgage paid right off the top).

  17. dwarf74 says:

    Whew. I was worried that this was in regards to my local Commerce Bank, which is apparently a Midwest-based bank.

    This Commerce Bank has a completely different logo.

  18. britne says:


  19. britne says:

    @dwarf74: Yeah, when I read that, I thought it was the Midwest one too. =)

  20. This is the most disappointing news I’ve heard since I joined Commerce Bank four years ago.

    Commerce Bank used to be the best bank in New York, heck, the best bank I’d ever banked with. I must have convinced half a dozen of my friends to sign up with them.

    Now I see the good times are over. What used to be the friendliest, most customer-oriented bank around is now charging ATM fees, imposing these onerous “minimum balance” fees on checking accounts, and closing earlier and more often.

    The worst part is that they keep on trying to push themselves as the “friendly” and “convenient” alternative. Sorry, Commerce, but dog biscuits and a change machine aren’t enough.

    I’m leaving.

    Can anyone suggest a bank in New York that sucks less than Commerce?

  21. Matthew says:

    After a long series of frustrating shortcomings, this is the last straw. We’re leaving Commerce — but we’ll be back a couple times a year to sort our change!

  22. jkschlitz says:

    @remthewanderer: I live in South Jersey too, and my checking account came with the same deal. It’s had a minimum $100 balance for several years.

    I usually use free ATMs, but I think Commerce refunds 3 transaction fees per month (or maybe it’s $3 in fees), and there definitely isn’t a $2500 minimum balance for that.

    I wonder why there’s such a big difference between the New Jersey and New York banks.

  23. tunacasserole says:

    Commerce Bank is convenient (like Starbucks – there is one on almost every corner), but stupid. They are committed to bad design and wasting such resources as paper (too many receipts – why not offer an onscreen option for seeing your balance?), plastic (all those lousy, cheap, free pens – why?)and space (there is no need for such huge branch offices – they take up as much room as a parking lot. what’s next, a kids playground a la suburban Mcdonald’s?). They are trying to look like a Brooklyn institution (witness the large painted mural of 1940s Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn), yet their attitude and sensibility is decidedly midwest, or at the very least, not New York. Why not provide the ability to transfer funds from one bank to another like HSBC and ING DIRECT? Why is the Website so amateur in look, feel, and function? I had high hopes for CB when they opened across the street; now I wish just about any other bank would open nearby instead. I’m sure they mean well, but so do a million other restaurant chains and mega stores that don’t quite get it.

  24. Jose Ventura says:

    After so many years with Commerce I am finally leaving them. I have had so much loss with them, that its not even funny. They have made tons of money off of me, on the insufficient fund fees. Unfortunately if you are one of those people that only put enough money to cover debts, make sure you always have extra. I have always paid there non-sufficient fund fees. Once they gave me 1 credit, and they had 8 + due to a levy that went in. They let all my checks bounce, but held it back long enough to take 100 dollar processing fee for the levy. I had sent out over 1000 dollars in checks and had 1200 extra.

    I understand they can’t deny a court order but if they were able to take there 100 dollars, why not pay the checks that were made a week or so before the levy was even entered. Now they are charging me 257 in fees and even though I payed the creditor directly. And when I called they said they could not help me due to me record of non-sufficient fund fees. Even though they were always paid, of course without them paying the debt. So I wound up with tons of fees, and still had to pay the actual debt, and not to mention to the creditor…. Beware Commerce customers… never go by the available balance on the web, even using the debit cards..