More New Debit Card Fees Loom

Banks are making less money when you swipe your credit and debit cards because of new caps on interchange rates, the fee that they charge to process each of these transactions, that go into effect on July 1st. They have to make the money up somehow! We’ve seen new fee-incurring tripwires on checking accounts, and now they’re dreaming up even more fees for debit cards. Here’s what’s on their wishlist:

  • $25 annual fees on debit cards
  • No more debit card rewards
  • Charge higher withdrawl fees at their ATMs to non-customers
  • Cap the number and/or size of the transactions you make on your debit card

Make sure not to toss out letters you get from your bank in the next few months. They may be announcing new restrictions and fees, and they’re not always obvious. Sometimes they try to make them look like exciting new features that are really just fees in disguise. Make sure to scrutinize the fine print on anything you get.

These fees are “definitely a 2011 issue,” Robert Hammer, who runs a banking-industry consulting firm in Thousand Oaks, California, told WSJ. “The question is which quarter it will be and which bank will go first.”

At Banks, New Fees Replacing Old Levies [WSJ]


Edit Your Comment

  1. obits3 says:

    One more reason I don’t own a debit card…

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      We have ATM cards that double as debit cards. We never use them to buy anything, but we use them when we need to go to the ATM. I wonder if the fee will apply to all cards regardless of whether you only use them for ATM.

      • Daemon Xar says:

        Okay, Pecan, great new avatar. I want the kitty.

      • BBBB says:

        “We have ATM cards that double as debit cards. We never use them to buy anything,…”

        Then have the bank give you an ATM card that is not a debit card – now there is no risk of the debit card being used by mistake or used fraudulently. When you first ask, the bank might tell you that they don’t have ATM only cards, but if you push the issue with the bank manager (not the low level clerk), they might suddenly remember that they can. My bank manager told me that their instructions are to deny having it unless they think they might lose a customer.

    • human_shield says:

      None of these rules are in effect, so there’s no reason to not have a debit card. What’s wrong with them exactly? Besides being awesome and easy of course.

      • LandruBek says:

        Liability: if someone nicks your debit card, you pay for their fraud. CCs don’t work that way.

        • gpatrick902 says:

          Debit cards are still protected under FTC rules and regulation E even if Visa & Mastercard remove the zero liability.

          • obits3 says:

            Huh, I didn’t know that Debit Cards were included in reg E

            • john says:

              Someone used my debit card number fraudulently on the WoW site and the bank caught it for me. They called me to discuss the charges and I was credited the money the next day. May not be as smooth as that, if the bank didn’t catch the problem themselves, but I was impressed.

          • obits3 says:

            While they are both covered under reg E, there is still one HUGE difference:

            “…when a transaction is under investigation with a credit card, the charge is generally reversed until it is investigated further. With debit cards, the charge stays on while the transaction is investigated. So, if you have a fraudulent charge, you’re out the money until it’s fully investigated.”


            Credit cards keep your money in your bank until the investigation is finished, while debt cards leave you without your money. Would you rather have your money now or wait for it?

            • Alvis says:

              I would rather shop with my own, hard-earned money, not borrow someone else’s every month.

              • partofme says:

                I have a savings account and a credit card with the same credit union. The savings account has more money than my credit limit. So, in effect, while they’re paying me interest, I’m borrowing from myself (because their credit line is being floated out of my deposit, theoretically).. but not taking on the risk of a fraudulent transaction putting my hard-earned money on hold. It’s such a sweetheart deal that it borders on “moral hazard”.

              • obits3 says:

                “I would rather shop with my own, hard-earned money, not borrow someone else’s every month.”

                I see no problem borrowing someone else’s money every month. After all, you Bank/Credit Union is lending other people your money every month. In fact, you could be borrowing from your own money indirectly =)

              • jamar0303 says:

                And I would rather NOT have my OWN hard-earned money locked up for any length of time in the event of a dispute.

            • Chris says:

              I don’t know what the definition of the word “generally” is in your quote above but I’ve had two situations where I’ve had to contest a charge and in both cases I had to wait on the ruling in my favor before having the charge reversed.

              This was with two different cards from two different banks.

              Having said that, if the process is very quick (it wasn’t in my two situations) the reversed charge appears before you have to pay the next credit card bill.

      • obits3 says:

        I think that debit cards are great for people that have wrecked their credit (because so many places don’t take checks anymore). That said, if you can get a credit card, you are better off. CCs have better free fraud protections, can be used to smooth out cash flow (within reason), and have other great stuff like extending warranties.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Maybe I’ll go back to using cash.

    • jesusofcool says:

      Yeah. This doesn’t bother me. I have always trusted credit over debit. At one bank I’ve switched to an ATM only card and I’d probably continue with that everywhere. I have also never made a withdrawal at an out-of-network ATM – always seemed like money down the drain no matter what.
      The only one that sounds doubtful is a cap on the size/number of ATM transactions. Seems like major banks like BoA have introduced these fancy schmancy ATMs to try to push people towards using them instead of coming inside (I’m sure because it cuts the number of physical employees they need inside and thus costs).

    • Chris says:

      I don’t follow. The fact there’s a potential that your specific debit card (assuming you had one) may, sometime in the future, have increased fees is a reason to not own a debit card? What about the potential that your credit card may increase fees?

      Just be smart and keep an eye out on this sort of thing (which I assume you do since you’re a consumerist) and all will be fine.

  2. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Oh, those are some wicked sinful fees… D:

    Is it just me, or are all American Banks are batshit crazy?

    • pythonspam says:

      I remember when banks made money by borrowing money from creditors and paying small interest rates, then turning around and loaning that same money to people and charging slightly higher interest rates.

      “Well, your money’s in Joe’s house… that’s right next to yours. And in the Kennedy House, and Mrs. Macklin’s house, and, and a hundred others. Why, you’re lending them the money to build, and then, they’re going to pay it back to you as best they can.”

  3. thompson says:

    I used to scoff at the people whose first response to all of this was always “Move to a credit union!”

    Then I moved to a credit union. I can’t even begin to describe how much better life is. No fees, for anything. Unlimited refund of ATM fees. Incredibly low APR on the car loan I took out a month ago. In house customer service, calling their 800 number gets me straight to the branch.

    So uhh, join a credit union! And if you’re in the Bay Area, I joined SF Fire CU and have been enjoying my freedom from BOA ever since.

    • Robofish says:

      I’m a Credit Union member and I’ll never switch to a regular bank. It rules

    • Tim says:

      I’m considering switching to a credit union. The main problem is that for the one I want to join, all of their branches are in security-restricted areas (it’s the U.S. Senate FCU … I’d be able to get into the branches, of course, but it’d be a hassle). Of course, I could use shared branching for a lot of things … but I still might need go to a real branch, and it’d be a hassle.

      Also, the different surcharge-free ATM networks are ever so confusing. Some CUs are in some networks, some aren’t. Some ATMs are within multiple networks as well. Confusing!

      • Doncosmic says:

        If your in DC just join one of the military credit unions, they are everywhere.

        • nbs2 says:

          I do’t think I’ve even seen a PenFed branch (I’m a member), but NavyFed seems to be the most proliferated.

        • Tim says:

          You have to be a member of the military or a certain branch (or sometimes a civilian Department of Defense employee) in order to join all of them.

          A lot of the federal government agencies do have CUs open to everyone in DC though.

          • gman863 says:

            PenFed will let any civilian join so long as they make a one-time membership donation of $20 to a selected non-profit group. It’s a loophole in the membership rules.

    • blogger X says:

      I still scoff at people who use that line. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Sure there are great credit unions, but a couple in my area charge you a “teller fee” if you withdrawal less than $500 at the window, a $3 “statement printout fee” and a $1 charge everytime you use yiur debit card over five, yes five times a month. So, utlimately, your mileage may vary with them depending on where you live.

      • danic512 says:

        Uh, then try a different Credit Union? Just because you found one that sucks doesn’t mean that they all suck, or that they suck more than traditional banks.

        I know it’s fun to contradict people on the internet, but this is a bit silly.

        • quail says:

          That’s the thing about Credit Unions, you have to meet guidelines to use them. The vast majority of them require you to work for this or that business. A small but ever growing segment simply require you to live or work within the community for which they’re chartered. But if you’re stuck with a crappy Credit Union, then sometimes you’re just stuck with them unless you move or change jobs. There is no shopping around for a good CU.

          There are bad CUs out there. I once belonged to one during college and in my 30s it slowly morphed into some horrible, fee infested monstrosity. About a year later I began looking for a better alternative when suddenly they rechartered themselves into a bank. I finally left a week after that.

          • Mom says:

            That was true 10 years ago, then the laws changed. Most CU’s will let anybody join.

          • gman863 says:

            Many CUs are now part of a network that allows you to make deposits, withdrawls and payments at any CU that’s in the program. Currently I think there are about 6500 across the country participating.

        • blogger X says:

          What is so silly about pointing out that there are some credit unions out there that aren’t that great compared to banks?

        • jamar0303 says:

          None that I qualify for offer better rates for any of the services I use.

          ATM withdrawals in China? Every CU I qualify for (none while a non-resident citizen, less than five now that I’ve picked a place to register as a residence) wants fees for that. Schwab lets me withdraw all I want at any machine in the country for just a 1% exchange fee (and with the large number of non-US-based clients they have who use this to access the funds they have I presume this is unlikely to change).

          Money transfers to China? Wells Fargo charges US$6.50 a transfer up to $1000 a day (thus, small amounts go to Schwab and I withdraw here while large amounts go to Wells Fargo and I wire it to my local account). No CU I qualify for would do it for less than $50 a pop (Schwab wanted $25).

          Sorry, it’s going to be practicality first for me. I’ve tried my darnedest to avoid the whole US banking system, but if I have to at least I’m not going to let myself get ripped off.

      • chiieddy says:

        I agree. I compared my local credit union to Ally, Schwab and ING just yesterday on checking accounts and discovered the latter three had many more benefits than the credit union. For example, for Ally & Schwab, they will refund ANY ATM fees you receive no matter what the network. The credit union is limited to the SUM ATM network and you’re responsible for other fees you incur. Knowing what a SUM ATM is may not always be easy to find on the fly.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Yup, love my CU! I do get rewards back for my debit card use (got three Target GCs that came in handy at Christmas)…hopefully CUs don’t start pulling these shenanigans and take away our rewards program. :(

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’m a member of a very small credit union and a large national bank. I really don’t find there to be much of a difference in the quality of service between the local branch of my bank vs. credit union. The credit union is definitely behind the times in terms of their web presence but they offer some amazing interest rates on their loans — we wound up financing a used car at 2.9%, which is incredibly low in my area.

      • jimmyhl says:

        I can’t help wondering if you have experienced a unique “service issue” with your two institutions yet. That’s when the true test comes.

    • JonStewartMill says:

      Incredibly low APR on the car loan I took out a month ago.

      Just out of curiosity, how low is “incredibly low”?

      • thompson says:

        3.25% for someone with a spotless, but very limited credit history.

        • ARP says:

          Holy Sh*t that is good for the circumstances.

          • wrjohnston91283 says:

            We’re payin 2.9% incentive financing, so 3.25% from a regular lender is amazing.

            • thompson says:

              The finance person at the dealership processed the loan for me (there’s some sort of credit union lending system that allows dealers to do all the paperwork for the CU and receive the money instantly, instead of having to go grab a check from the CU). She literally did a doubletake when the APR popped up on her computer and didn’t even try and sell me on incentive financing, she just told me that was an incredible rate and actually wrote down my CU’s name ;)

        • JonStewartMill says:

          That is quite good. I think my bank will do 2.9% on a new vehicle (3.9% for used), but I’ve been banking with them for 20+ years and my credit has been excellent for at least ten of them. Maybe I should see what a credit union will offer me.

        • thompson says:

          My CU offers same rates new/used, but mine happened to be a used car. Interesting they also seem to do the opposite of what a lot of banks do, they offer lower APRs as the term of the loan shrinks. I got mine for 60 months, but they’re offering 2.99% for 48 months.

    • evnmorlo says:

      There are plenty of regular banks, especially internet only, that can match or exceed that. And being in a credit union is no protection from fees in response to a new law

  4. blogger X says:

    Cash and Carry FTW!!!

  5. blinky says:

    Hmm. Write a check? That’ll show ’em.

    • LACubsFan says:

      I work for Visa. I told everyone this MONTHS ago that the banks won’t lose money, they will pass it on to their account holders…. and I was called all sorts of names.

      So lets see…. Lets see how prices drop at the liquor store, or the market, now that fees are capped. I’m sure the prices for milk and bread will be going down any day now

  6. BurtReynolds says:

    I rarely use it anyway. No cashback on my debit card.

  7. Thorzdad says:

    ~Fondly remembers when businesses happily made their profits by providing the services they advertise, and not by nickle-and-dime fees and penalties. And, yes children, those days really did exist in my lifetime. And the system worked for everyone.

    • ARP says:

      But that didn’t result in double digit profits year over year and so it is bad.

    • regis-s says:

      Yeah, but then the Big Box stores and no frills airlines appeared. People became more interested in what something cost than getting great service. So I wouldn’t lay everything at the feet of business. There’s enough blame to go around.

    • YokoOhNo says:

      or even the days when you were charged for the cost plus a reasonable overhead and profit…the market is less free today than it was 20 years ago.

      $35 dolar overdraft fees, starting with the largest transactions first, $.10 to send a text that costs $.0005!??!?! These are criminals who are aided by their criminal political friends.

  8. smartmuffin says:

    Thanks again, unintended consequences of laws that the parent company of this website activley lobbied for.

    • Tim says:

      The banks are actively choosing to charge the fees. No legislation is forcing them to; no government intervention of any kind of making them do it.

      • iggy21 says:

        -1 for failing to apply logic

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          I can only assume the -1 refers to yourself, for failing to accept logic.

          • iggy21 says:

            wow, childishly amusing. Read the article. The Banks have to make up the money somehow. They will not just absorb the loss; business doesnt work that way.

            You also probably assume that a tax on a business is paid by that business (not by the consumers)

      • SBR249 says:

        hence the “unintended” part of unintended consequences….

        • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

          What makes you think these bonus fees wouldn’t have gotten implemented anyway? More cash for the wealthy is more cash for the wealthy.

      • smartmuffin says:

        RTFA. The fact that OTHER fees they charge are being capped (doesn’t seem like something they’d just randomly agree to do voluntarily) is causing them to find new fees to charge.

        Just like the credit card bill, and the overdraft fees issue, and everything else the government gets its hands on…

        • frank64 says:

          They can still make good profits, it is just that they were getting insane profits on many things and are used to it. Even the fees that are being capped are still profitable. They would like to be able to get the money elsewhere, but I don’t think it will work. I normally hate regulation, but they just went way to far.

          The law was good, because it will save us money. The stock took a hit with the rules, this means they do not believe they will get them all back.

      • barty says:

        Complete BS.

        Stop drinking the “we need more regulation” Kool Aid and realize that if you cap a businesses’ ability to make money in one area, they will make up for it somewhere else if they are able. This is simple economics and finance. Businesses list taxes and cost of compliance with regulation as a cost, if their profit margin goal is x%, they’ll raise their price (in this case, add a fee), or cut costs elsewhere (reducing dividend payments, layoffs, outsourcing, offshoring, etc) to meet that goal.

        In the end consumers pay for increased regulation and taxes on businesses, period. Sooner people come to this realization and stop screaming to the government to “do something” about every ill in society, the better off we’ll be.

        • partofme says:

          Yes and no. If a business is doing something that is very profitable because of the state of the market, then lose it due to regulation, they will absolutely try to make up the difference elsewhere. However, if the market simply is not as profitable in the ‘elsewhere’ category (in this case, suppose people stop using debit cards because of fees), then they’re not going to hit their goal. A business will alter its goals according to regulations and what the market will bear, otherwise they won’t be in business very long.

        • YokoOhNo says:

          If they would only allow 8 year old chinese children to get their US work visas it would surely increase profits…i know for a fact you can sleep 17 8 year old chinese kids in a 10×10 room, thereby increasing profit. I think i’ve said too much.

          profit, profit, profit at all costs!

    • iggy21 says:

      +1 for logic

    • ARP says:

      Or the unintended consequences of a bank thinking they can make double digit profits every year, despite current economic conditions.

    • sirwired says:

      Who says these consequences were unintended? Of course banks were going to start charging for Debit cards if they couldn’t dump the fees on the merchant anymore.

      I, for one, am glad merchants (and therefore, all the merchant’s customers, even the ones like myself that don’t use the accursed cards) aren’t going to have to foot the inflated bill for this service any longer. (Debit cards used to cost the merchant way more than credit or ATM transactions for no good reason.)

      • frank64 says:

        +1 on this. Everyone pays, and not the users. The users don’t care that the fees are so high, because the costs is spread out by others and hidden. Now the cost will be known, and then we can decide to shop around for debit card with the least cost. Just like everything else.

      • JohnDeere says:

        for years when a business has asked me cedit or debit, i ask them what is cheaper for you and for years they have all prefered debit. what you say makes no sense.

        • sirwired says:

          What the article is referring to is Visa Debit cards swiped as credit. The new rule does not affect debit cards swiped as debit (w/ a PIN); those have always been cheaper for the merchant (and more expensive for the bank.)

          • frank64 says:

            There is a separate provision to make debit and ATM fees reasonable based on the cost. They have not ruled on it yet, but comments are being accepted until some time in Feb.

          • JohnDeere says:

            well thats a credit card fee. you should be able to opt out of using your card that way completely and avoid fees altogether.

    • Consumeristing says:

      Thanks for pointing that out. The bill even restricts credit to women. It really is unbelievable how bad the bill is.
      “The Credit Card Act signed into law last year was supposed to stop financial institutions from sleazy antics. But instead, some retailers say, it may restrict stay-at-home moms.

      Dress Barn Inc., Home Depot Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other companies are urging the Federal Reserve to drop a proposed rule that would require credit-card issuers to consider only a borrower’s “independent” income rather than household income. The new standard, which would apply to new credit-card accounts and requests to increase limits on existing accounts, could make it difficult for some customers to get credit on the spot, especially stay-at-home moms.

      The proposed rule “would unfairly restrict the ability of many consumers, particularly women not working outside the home, to qualify for credit,” wrote David Jaffe, president and chief executive of Dress Barn in a letter to the Fed this month. The company operates 2,477 stores for women and young girls.

      • gman863 says:

        When applying for a credit card, banks almost never verify employment or income. So long as you don’t list something outrageous in the “annual income” box your approval and credit line are automatically spit out by a computer that analyzes your FICO score. A human rarely (if ever) is involved in the decision.

        If a spouse has decent credit, he or she can still get approved just by stating “self employed” (technically, this is an accurate description for a housekeeper or child-care provider) and listing the portion of household income he or she is responsible for managing/spending.

  9. Grogey says:

    Screw regular banks… There dying so I would suggest everyone stick with Credit Unions and get with the good ones.

    The one im with has ATM’s everywhere. They have an agreement/convenience with a local Gas Stations and there stations are everywhere also. I am guaranteed to have a no fee ATM in every single one of them,

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Wow, you managed to use “there” incorrectly in two different ways!

      • tr41nwr3ck says:

        Frickin’ amazing. No wonder America is on decline with people like that as a by-product of the “Public Fool” system. It’s a joke.

      • ARP says:

        I disagree. I think he’s doing a performance art piece on the needless complexity of the english language. He/she thinks we should just have a single spelling of “there” and use context for meaning.

  10. Smudgepot_theATTackDonkey says:

    Banks offer a legitimate service at the Point of Sale for debit transactions that has largely been ignored by merchants who have been lobbying for the Durbin legislation. This service is that when a transaction occurs the availability of funds in the account is checked at the point of authorization. Thus, this transaction carries less risk for the merchant than say, a check (checks are only validated against a blacklist, they are not validated against the actual deposit account with the banking institution). Banks deserve to be paid for this service and also the convenience a merchant receives for faster receipt of funds. Essentially the Durbin legislation just pushes the burden for paying per transaction costs from the merchant to the consumer. It’s a shame.

    I’ll be interested to see whether or not the rate of armed robbery increases as we move to merchants pushing their customers to pay via cash. There are costs to accepting cash and checks and other forms of payment.

    • smartmuffin says:

      Since when does providing a legitimate service entitle you to a profit? What are you some kind of stupid dinosaur CAPITALIST???

    • sirwired says:

      1) With Check21, the checks are drawn from the account immediately with most decent-size merchants (any merchant that gives you your check back); they are not merely checked against a blacklist.
      2) Consumers were already paying for the higher transaction costs; the difference is that the merchant was passing the costs onto ALL consumers, even those that paid with cash, ATM card, or credit card, all of which have lower cost.
      3) Paying with a Debit card is NOT just like paying with a check from the Merchant’s perspective. The merchant gets the funds from the check as soon as it clears. Payments from Visa/MC don’t come nearly so quickly or so often.

      But yes, debit cards are a legit service for which somebody will have to pay. I think it makes perfect sense for the holder of the card to pay for that service, and not somebody like myself, who refuses to carry one.

      • Smudgepot_theATTackDonkey says:

        Check 21 improves the rate that funds are transferred from one institution to another. It does not mean that a merchant who accepts a check is engaging in an electronic funds conversion process that essentially takes a check and converts this check to an electronic transaction.

        An assumption that has been tossed around with the Durbin legislation is that the money that merchants save will be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices. This will not happen, and in fact this was proved in Australia when interchange rates were regulated and the merchants just stuffed the additional profits into their pockets.

        I didn’t claim that a payment by check and debit are the same. In fact, what I pointed out was contrary to this. My point is that taking a debit transaction is less risky for the merchant because the availablity of the funds is checked prior to the transaction completing. And the funds are reserved against the account after the transaction is completed. And because this is a benefit to the merchant it is the merchant who should pay for this benefit NOT the consumer. My opinion is that this Fraud Prevention service that is being provided to merchants who take debit has been ignored in most conversations on this legislation and that there is a legitimate service here to the merchant that should be paid for and not taken for granted. (I am not sure if the EFC process checks the availability of the funds in the account. But for merchants who are not engaging in this process they are still on the hook for the account having the necessary funds in the account at the point in which it clears.)

        I agree whole-heartedly that consumers who pay with cash should get a discount. If it costs less for the merchant, then it should cost less for the consumer. Makes perfect sense to me.

        Lastly, typical turn around for merchant receipt of funds on debit transactions is the next business day.

        And, yes, I am more than willing to admit I’m a Capitalist.

      • Adam9932 says:

        It would be outlandish and foolish to believe that merchants will now lower their prices because the fees have been capped and/or reduced (even dropped). They will not lower their prices, the will simply have more profits. Which is fine, the free and open market is quite good at setting prices.

      • partofme says:

        It’s also a service to the merchant. They don’t have to manage large amounts of cash and have a decent arbitration system available that avoids the slow legal system. I’m sure there are other benefits. Simply saying “it costs the merchant money => it costs all customers more… but only some customers benefit” is not a complete description. Both the card-carrying customer and the merchant obtain a service, and usually both the card-carrying customer and the merchant pay for it. It’s hard to fix a value on each of these things. So we try to make sure to stop as much major abuse as possible, but the solution will always be in flux. Merchants just want you to think that their cost is also a cost to non-card-carriers… because then they have a nice political base to help make them more money. The reality is much more complicated.

    • danic512 says:

      There’s a huge difference between providing a service to earn a profit and trying to screw over customers.

    • smbizowner says:

      oh yes we small merchants are really seeing a decrease in our transaction fees – NOT
      this months statement now has a yearly compliance fee of $99 plus another annual fee of $79 plus an new wats fee of .10/transaction plus a bank service fee

      so yep MY cc/dc transaction fees when down…..

  11. ldub says:

    Reason #4562 why we do our banking through a credit union. Should I use an ATM that is not in their network, I get the fee monies returned to me monthly. Why anyone (who isn’t rich) is still doing their personal banking with a for-profit bank is a mystery to me.

    • SBR249 says:

      Because there are segments of the population that are not as sedentary as you are? For example, young people and students are often likely to change their geographical locations every few years. That makes banking with institutions that lack physical locations (and sometimes do not offer all their services online or by phone) outside of a small area infeasible for these people…

      And opening and closing accounts every time you relocated is a hassle.

      • Bativac says:

        I don’t think you meant “sedentary,” I think you meant “stationary” or something that means “you don’t move from town to town.”

        I lived in three different states (Florida, Tennessee, Maine) and traveled extensively during college. I never had a problem with my local credit union – I just used “partner credit union” branches for my banking. It worked out fine.

        • SBR249 says:

          zoologically speaking, sedentary means non-migratory which is appropriate in that sense.

        • SBR249 says:

          apologies for the double comment, didn’t see the last part of your reply.

          My original meaning is a permanent relocation. I don’t mean traveling or moving to college for a few years and still listing your parents’ address as a permanent address. I meant those people who permanently relocate every few years due to jobs, professional schooling/training, etc. Most people in that group would find it hard to justify banking with an institution that they might never see again after 2-3 years.

          • selkie says:

            Despite that claim, USAA is one of the most successful and respected banking or credit union institutions around and they’ve got essentially no bricks and mortar presence.

            I bank with a military credit union that has to compete with USAA. If I ever find myself in Greenland or Mongolia, yeah, they’ve probably got reciprocal ATM agreements for over there.

            • SBR249 says:

              good thing you read my comments in detail, especially the part where I say some credit unions might not offer all their services online or by phone if they have (at least) a regional brick and mortar presence…

              Just because USAA’s model is to operate almost entirely remotely, it does not mean that all credit unions do so. Additionally, the USAA (and military-oriented services) general caters to a clientele that is based all over the country and the world so of course they can provide you service wherever you are. But most credit unions do not assume that a geographically dispersed clientele. And, the USAA isn’t exactly open to all, no matter how much I wished otherwise.

    • TooManyHobbies says:

      We have used a credit union for our banking for 20 years, though for a few years we had a Bank of America account because for a few years that was the only way we could get direct deposit. That stunk, I don’t know how BoA stays in business with service like that.

      But lately I’ve been trying out an on-line bank, and so far I’m quite impressed. $0 minimums, no fees, no charges, no surprises, great (for these days) interest rates on both savings and checking, customer support that’s 24/7 and I’ve gotten through in 30 seconds to someone who speaks english every time.

      • SunnyLea says:

        Which one?

        • TooManyHobbies says:

          I opened an account. I know there’s controversy because they’re the rebranded GMAC and they took federal bailout money. But they’re not paying any more interest than companies that didn’t take any fed money, so I’m hoping that they’re on a solid footing, not just living on handouts. If not, worst that can happen is that they drop their rates, in which case I can just move my money, I didn’t have to do much to create the account so they don’t really have me locked in.

  12. anime_runs_my_life says:

    I’m in the “join a credit union” crowd, because I’ve been a member of various credit unions around my area for years. I left my first one because their branches were inconvieniently located. The second one I joined acted more like a bank than it did a credit union (25 cent fees if you used your card as a debit card, but no fees if you used it as a credit card..what?), and it was so customer unfriendly. Everything had a fee associated with it. I had enough and joined another credit union because a rep had come into work and handed out flyers about their accounts.

    I was so pleased that I managed to convince the husband to move his account from the credit union that thought it was a bank after they screwed up his account badly.

    Always check the fee schedule, though. Mine is good and I’ve never had to pay any fees. I even get a decent interest rate (I think it’s 4.25% right now) for my checking, and get my ATM fees back at the end of the month if for some reason I have to withdraw money from an ATM that isn’t in their network.

  13. Sunflower1970 says:

    I never got rewards on my debit card anyway, I never use an ATM that is not my banks’, a $25 fee for a debit card is going to make me not use it as a debit card any more, not use it any more period, capping the size of the transaction is going to be a possible problem…depending on what it is. I can sometimes go over $100 for groceries…and if I haven’t gone in a long time, close to $200. If there is a cap at 100-200 then it’s going to be a huge problem….
    I’ll have to look into a credit union, definitely IF any one of these ‘new features’ is added to my Wells Fargo account…

  14. Blueskylaw says:

    Why do credit card companies and banks feel that they are entitled to record profits quarter after quarter and year after year and that when the entire world is suffering, they should suffer less?

    • smartmuffin says:

      Because they are accountable to shareholders who (reasonably) expect them to deliver as great of a profit as possible, and if they can’t, they will be quickly replaced by smoeone who will.

      Do people seriously have this little understanding of how the business world works?

      • blinky says:

        Indeed? When was the last time any board was ever replaced by shareholders? And as the boards are the only ones who can nominate, how did shareholders manage it? The whole “the shareholders will revolt” thing is a crock.

        • smartmuffin says:

          Even if they don’t replace an entire board, they’ll vote with their dollars and sell their shares. That’s no good for the board, either. Please, acting like even a SMALL decrease in profit is “totally okay” for any large, public, company just betrays your stunning ignorance of how the business world works.

          • bite back says:

            It would be best if we could replace ‘maximizing profits’ with the goal of a reasonable rate of return.

            When you sit down for dinner, is your goal to consume the maximum amount of calories? There are long term consequences to greed and gluttony.

            • smartmuffin says:

              Right, and the “long term consequences” to greed and/or unethical behavior are reduced business and/or fines or penalties, all of which reduce profitability. I never said they have a responsibility to squeeze every last nickel and dime out of every customer, just that they have a responsibility to maximize profits. Charging too much or offering poor/uncompetitive service will not maximize profits, as consumers will then go elsewhere.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Thank you for making me understand why Bank of America breaks the law by having mortgage foreclosure documents signed by dead people. It’s all in the name of profit.

      • human_shield says:

        You should explain this concept to GM.

      • VashTS says:

        That’s how business works, thanks smartmuffin. You clearly understand more than everyone else. Those poor millionaires, how will they survive only having their multi million dollar severance pay.

  15. packy says:

    I thought there WERE transaction size caps on debit cards. I remember when I bought my first laptop, the online retailer wasn’t able to process the charge and my credit union claimed it was because the transaction exceeded the maximum transaction amount. I wound up wiring the money from my credit union to the retailer.

    This, however, was well over a decade ago, so things may have changed since.

    • Sunflower1970 says:

      They still do. I believe my cap is $500 on my card. That’s whether I use it as a credit or a debit card. Had a problem only once. Just like you, I tried to buy a computer. I was able to call my bank and they were able to up my limit for the day so I could buy the computer. Next day the cap was back in place.

  16. skakh says:

    Guess I may have to go back to checks if I am unable to find a local bank that does not charge an annual debit card fee or limit the number of transactions. Just how much profit does a bank need to make? Of course we could all get smarter and demand our elected officials actually work for us and not for the special interests. All the right wingers could stop watching Fox News and thereby limit the ungodly salaries for Beck, Bill-O, Hannity, etc. Without such nutty salaries perhaps the cost of some products would drop. Sorry, just some wishful thinking on my part.

    • smartmuffin says:

      “Just how much profit does a bank need to make?”

      As much as they possibly can. Just like every other business. Seriously, does everyone on this website have such poor understanding of how capitalism works?

      • thompson says:

        Which is why joining one of those commie socialist credit unions is so great — the profits go straight back to the owners too, but the owners are the shareholders (the members).

        • partofme says:

          Depending on which flavor of socialism you adhere to, credit unions might be classified as socialist. But you’d have to pick a flavor that mostly ignore the “state action” part of traditional socialist theories. On the other hand, credit unions flow out of capitalism quite easily. A bunch of people think “we can provide this same service for each other, more cheaply, without having to buy from those other guys”… and they form a credit union. Pretty capitalistic.

  17. c152driver says:

    Can we please go back to the old system where those who couldn’t manage their finances subsidized the costs of banking for those of us who do?

    • duxup says:

      That is still the case to some extent. Shop around, and you can find places without many of the new fees. The folks who don’t bother will pay.

      Unfortunately, we will all still pay when the bank’s can’t manage their finances.

  18. sirwired says:

    And these fees are perfectly proper. The cards take money to run, and those that choose to use them should pay for them. As opposed to the old method of the merchant paying, and those very high interchange costs (higher than those for credit cards) being passed onto all customers.

    Now, these perfectly proper fees may lead consumers to decide that the cards aren’t worth it, and that’s fine too.

    • evnmorlo says:

      People spend more when they use plastic, the store can probably have 30%-50% fewer cashiers because of faster payment, and fewer armored cars and drawer audits are necessary. There is plenty of value generated from electronic payments that can more than offset the fee.

  19. duncanblackthorne says:

    Screw ’em. Go back to using cash.

  20. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Dear DumbAss SmartMuffin;
    We are all quite aware how capitalism works. Did it ever occur to you that since:

    Banks and their drive for obscene profits were one of the primary causes of the financial meldown;
    And the fact that their customers and taxpayers rescued them from the brink of collapse;
    AND they still owe the taxpayers (their customers) lots of money borrowed after said collapse;
    AND the fact that they get money at a very low price and charge many times more than that to even their best customers;

    Updated 12/29/2010
    This week Month ago Year ago
    WSJ Prime Rate 3.25 3.25 3.25
    Federal Discount Rate 0.75 0.75 0.50
    Fed Funds Rate 0.25 0.25 0.25
    And their customers are pretty pissed off at them and their CEO’s high pay and perks anyway;

    You would think they would be just a little less greedy, Huh?

  21. Buckus says:

    Hmmm, so let me get this straight: instead of trying to offer new and innovative products that customers will want, they want to profit off of fees that don’t do anything for the customer except make their balance smaller?

    Lazy much?

    /hates banks

  22. richcreamerybutter says:

    I’ll echo the Credit Union crowd, but as one person mentioned some areas of the country are difficult in terms of CU eligibility. Can Consumerist publish a post with tricks and loopholes for acquiring membership in cities with more exclusive CUs?

    I’m eligible for one, but it’s going to require a lot of trouble on my part to make it happen. It’s ridiculous.

  23. dolemite says:

    If I had to pay a fee for my atm/debit card, I’d get the card changed into atm only.

  24. quail says:

    Just a quick question: How many people out there don’t deal with checks at all anymore? I’ve run into several people who have bank accounts but don’t have checks. They never ordered them or they threw them out, I don’t know. But the thing is there’s a minority out there without the desire to even have a check at the ready when needed. A few of the people were guys pulling themselves out of poverty. The others were students.

    My check writing is down to maybe three or six a year, but the idea of paying extra money for a money order or a cashiers check for those times a check is needed just feels crazy.

    • JM says:

      I use 24 checks a year….12 for monthly rent, and 12 for the power company, who charges a fee for paying online or over the phone. That’s it.

      • Sunflower1970 says:

        Yep, us too. Oh, and the occasional birthday/christmas check to nieces and nephews. So maybe close to 30 checks/yr

  25. PLATTWORX says:

    After making $$$ on my mortgage interest, auto loan interest, etc. in addition to having all of my other bank accounts… I look forward to BofA trying to charge me for debit card use and getting one heck of a response from me in return. It would take me about 1 day to pull my accounts.. if not sooner.

  26. Joewithay says:

    I liked how it was cheaper for me to take cash out of a Colombian ATM than a US ATM that is not in my network.

  27. gpatrick902 says:

    The interchange fee is not set in stone. TCF is challenging the constitutionality of the amendment. The lawyer they have is the best. Most comments are against lowering the interchange fee that low including consumers. Don’t think you won’t be affected if you use smaller institutions or use a government benefit debit card. You will. Either by merchants refusing them and you would have to use the ATMs more to get your money unless the Fed force merchants to take higher rate debit cards if the merchants take lower rate debit cards. Banks shouldn’t raise consumer fees, they should raise merchant business checking & business debit & business credit card accounts.

  28. chiieddy says:

    Right now, my bank gives me $.10 back on every ‘green’ transaction I make (electronic billpays, debit card purchases, etc). Last year, I earned $11.40 in ‘interest’ alone on the account. Based on an average daily balance of $1000, that’s about 1% APY, higher than any other interest bearing free checking out there (Ally is .5% atm and ING Electric Orange is at .25%). This is the only thing keeping me at this bank and not switching to Charles Schwab or Ally. The minute they eliminate this perk, I’m gone.

  29. kataisa says:

    This is a good reason why society should never go cashless. The banks will always find ways to fee us to death to legally steal our money, Big Govt who is in bed with these banks will not do anything to do stop it.

  30. kataisa says:

    This is a good reason why society should never go cashless. The banks will always find ways to fee us to death to legally steal our money, Big Govt who is in bed with these banks will not do anything to do stop it.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Exactly why I encourage people to use their mattress, it will never charge a fee and is much safer than a bank. Remember, it’s not your father’s bank anymore. Back in the good old days, banks used to be responsible to its account holders. Today it’s the opposite. I’m going to bet that if you simply put $100 in a bank and left it there long enough, you would end up owing the bank thousands of dollars. Now if that isn’t theft, I don’t know what is.

  31. YokoOhNo says:

    I found a $6 “service charge” on my account this month. Someone transposed the numbers on a deposit slip…it was a correction fee and they removed it after i spent 10 minutes going through their tree, giving my account number 3 times and being transferred to “someone who can help” twice.

    the banks really just make shit up and wait for 50% of the people to call them on it and keep the other 50%’s money.

  32. gpatrick902 says:

    Some questions. What if the banking industry refuse to follow the amendment? Is there any teeth in the amendment? Would the fine be cheaper that following the regulation order? I don’t know if the Durbin amendment is technically a law. Durbin claims the amendment can’t be repealed because he is not going to be there in 2011. From my understanding any law, amendment or regulation can be repealed. However, even if that was the case that wouldn’t stop someone from writing a new amendment to change or modify that amendment.

    • thompson says:

      “Durbin claims the amendment can’t be repealed because he is not going to be there in 2011.”

      [citation needed]

      • gpatrick902 says:


        It was a article I read. I guess the article was wrong or quoted Durbin incorrecty. Sorry I don’t have the link.

  33. AnthonyC says:

    “Cap the number and/or size of the transactions you make on your debit card”
    Why? Banks get paid a fee each time you use your debit card. For what purpose would they limit the number of fees they can collect?

  34. Jimmy37 says:

    No problemo – it’s either credit cards, checks or cash.

  35. shthar says:

    This is the complete opposite of my bank.

    They’re always trying stuff to get us to use it more.

    Course they do have a lot of elderly clients who still write checks.

  36. gman863 says:

    Although not foolproof, I’ve generally noticed the mega banks (BoA, Chase, Wells Fargo, etc.) tend to have more fees and “gotchas”, even on accounts advertised as “free checking”.

    If a credit union isn’t a convenient option, look at mid-sized banks. Many offer free checking with fewer strings attached. If you have been with a bank for a long time, check your old account info. if available. Mine has a “lifetime free checking” grandfather clause that forbids bank-imposed ATM or debit fees.

  37. Max5695 says:

    There are good credit unions and some bad ones. The key is to shop around and compare them.

    I have done my research and here are my top picks. SF Fire Credit Union for ATM fee refunds and a free checking account that comes with a box of checks. It is like every ATM is free for you. You can join by saying you’re a member of one of the San Francisco Fire Department Historical Society. You also have access to the CU Service Center network. You can bank in person at any credit union that is a member of this network. That is over 4,000 credit union branches nationwide.

    Alliant Credit Union has some of the best free checking and savings account rates. You earn much more money in interest than any of the major brick and mortar banks. Sign up online and just say you are a member of a local PTA. They don’t ask for official documentation. Also Alliant has one of the the best ATM networks: Virtually all credit union ATMs, Allpoint ATMs, 7-Eleven ATMs, Moneypass ATMs, USBank, and Bank of the West. That is over 80,000 free ATMs nationwide. Bank of America only has 18,000. You can also deposit checks online via a computer scanner. You can also transfer funds online to and from other banks for free.

  38. ap0 says:

    This is what you get when you pass these “consumer protection” laws — companies are going to make money somehow.

  39. Lt. Coke says:

    Man, when did the banks get to the point that they felt so entitled? In elementary school, the concept of a bank made so much sense than it does now: When you put money in the bank, it’s effectively a loan, and the bank uses it to give out real loans. You get security, they get free money to use to make profit.

    Damn you elementary schoooool *shakes fist*