Bank Fee Phobia

I hate paying bank fees. The way I see it they get to use my money to make themselves more money, so unless I bounce a check they should just be content with me being a silent partner.

I have free checking. I only use my ATM card at my bank’s machines. I never withdraw money more than six times per month from my Money Market account. I follow the rules, or so I thought.

This morning I went online to check and see if my economic stimulus check was received yet (and no, it wasn’t) and I noticed a $5 service fee deducted from my savings account.

I called the bank to inquire. Apparently I had dipped below the minimum daily balance of $250 for one day and so the fee was imposed. She immediately offered to waive the fee. I appreciated that, but the bigger issue is why I cannot get a savings account with no minimum balance. This account had been a no-minimum account until about two years before, and when they announced the switch they offered no alternative. Ever since I have stress about daily balances that I do not want or need.

Given the number of accounts I have at that bank I was not inclined to go through the rigmarole of researching another bank and moving my accounts, so I’d stayed put. I just hated always having to make sure there was $250 in that account, and it had finally come back to bite me in the tush.

As I’m on the phone with the bank and mentioning my chagrin about the lack of a no-minimum-balance account she told me that they’d just come out with a new account for which there was only a $1 minimum balance. When I asked her what the difference was between the two accounts she said just the minimum balance requirement.

That just didn’t make sense to me. Why would the bank make a new type of account that was identical to the account I had now except for the minimum balance requirement? I asked her to check again. I didn’t want to find out later that in order to get the $1 minimum balance account I had to give up online banking, or sweep the lobby, or get the name of the bank tattooed on my ass (which, trust me, would not be a good advertising venue). She put me on hold to check with…someone…and came back confirming that there is no other difference.  They call the new account a Heritage account, but I think a better name would be the Throw Fee Phobic Customers A Bone Account.  Whatever.

After being reassured that my automatic debits would still go through (I didn’t have to contact my vendors because my account number will stay the same) I had her make the switch.

I documented everything we discussed in my new “What They Told Me” file, and went about my day.

Really, it’s a relief. I hate worrying about minimum balances. And I hate paying fees even more. And if my account ever falls below one dollar I will deserve a service fee. Almost.


3 Responses to “Bank Fee Phobia”

  1. Funny about Money Says:

    Hmmm…. Interesting. Odd, too.

    That reminds me: gotta retrieve funds from the investment bank where i opened an allegedly no-fee account so I could use the bank for my client to wire funds to me. Credit union: not so great with wire transfers. Bank: “no fee” is a misnomer.

    The immediate reason I moved to the credit union was the constant nibbling away of funds by bank fees. There are other good reasons, but that was the one that put me in action.

    But even at the terrifyingly expensive Johnson Bank (someone has to pay for all that marble flooring and walnut paneling, and you can be sure it ain’t gunna be the stockholders), if you had a certain aggregate total in all your accounts, the charges went away. If your bank isn’t doing that, it may be worth the hassle to move to an institution that treats you decently.

  2. Money Hacks Carnival #11 - Ebb and Flow Edition Says:

    […] Be This Way has a somewhat humorous and a bit surprising account of avoiding bank fees in Bank Fee Phobia. […]

  3. No One at AmTrust Bank Seems to Know Jack About Their Minimum Balance Policy « Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You? Says:

    […] written before about how much I hate bank fees.  And I’ve written about how I use my bank accounts to manage my bills and save […]

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