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.

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