When the charitable folks at the Pew Charitable Trusts first suggested that banks could condense their overly complicated fee schedules from over 100 pages to one simple page, it seemed unlikely that any major bank would follow suit. But this morning, JPMorgan Chase announced it would do just that.
Starting today, Chase will use the Pew form to explain the fee schedule for its most frequently used Total Checking account. The bank says it plans on using the format for more of its account types in the near future.
“We are pleased to be the first large bank to adopt Pew’s simple disclosure form,” said the CEO of Chase’s Consumer Bank. “We set out to be as clear and concise as possible. This is another important step we’re taking to improve how we serve customers across Chase.”
Chase isn’t the only financial institution adopting the Pew form. Both the North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union, and Pentagon Federal Credit Union will be using the pared-down info sheet.
“Often times, hidden fees drive people out of the banking system,” said the President and CEO of Pentagon Federal Credit Union. “Our more than one million members, many of whom are serving in the Armed Forces, now have the benefit of our disclosure document that fully lists our fees when they open their accounts. Our members can bank without the fear of being charged unexpected fees.”
The simplified form came as the result of a Pew study that found that the median length of disclosure documents at the country’s largest banks was 111 pages, “consisting of account agreements, addendums to account agreements, fee schedules… Many of these documents are not user friendly, with much of the text densely printed, difficult to decipher, and highly technical and legalistic.”
“Far too often essential checking account information is buried in more than 100 pages of disclosure documents. This can present a challenge to even the most financially savvy customers who are looking for new accounts or to responsibly manage the ones they currently have,” said Susan Weinstock, director of Pew’s Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project. “Account holders need an easy-to-read disclosure document so they can be aware of the terms, conditions, and fees associated with their checking services.”
You can see a full PDF of the Pew disclosure form here.