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September 29, 2011 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Banks to Make Customers Pay Fee for Using Debit Cards. 'Bank of America, the nation’s biggest bank, said on Thursday that it planned to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee when they used their debit cards. It was just one of several new charges expected to hit consumers as new regulations crimp banks’ profits.'

'Wells Fargo and Chase are testing $3 monthly debit card fees. Regions Financial, based in Birmingham, Ala., plans to start charging a $4 fee next month, while SunTrust, another regional powerhouse, is charging a $5 fee.

The round of new charges stems from a rule, which takes effect on Saturday, that limits the fees that banks can levy on merchants every time a consumer uses a debit card to make a purchase. The rule, known as the Durbin amendment, after its sponsor Senator Richard J. Durbin, is a crucial part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law.'
posted by VikingSword (194 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
So I have to pay to pay. Jeez
posted by choppyes at 6:24 PM on September 29, 2011


Well, good-bye! And good riddance, BoA.
posted by theredpen at 6:24 PM on September 29, 2011 [19 favorites]


Credit union. Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.
posted by lalochezia at 6:26 PM on September 29, 2011 [198 favorites]


Cash is still the King, baby.
posted by bonehead at 6:29 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really should just move on to another bank already. I had already stopped using my BofA debit card after being humiliated repeatedly by their Total Security Protection Program that shuts down my card right then and there if I buy garlic and a hair brush on the same day but waves two purchases from two different states within minutes of each other right on through.
posted by katillathehun at 6:29 PM on September 29, 2011 [19 favorites]


I wonder if there's still time to join Occupy Wall Street.
posted by 2bucksplus at 6:30 PM on September 29, 2011 [24 favorites]


Fuck this, I'm going back to animal pelts.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:31 PM on September 29, 2011 [22 favorites]


Bank of America, you are the weakest link. Bye bye.
posted by nickrussell at 6:32 PM on September 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd like to see BoA and friends explain why community banks seem to be doing just fine under the crushing weight of Dodd-Frank, but they are forced (They're so sorry! Their hands are tied!) to extract money from customers in yet another way.
posted by jcreigh at 6:32 PM on September 29, 2011 [43 favorites]


Eat the rich. Fuck their pets. Then eat the pets.
posted by Splunge at 6:33 PM on September 29, 2011 [24 favorites]


Meanwhile, credit unions pay you to use your debit card. Up to 4.25% interest on your account balance.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:33 PM on September 29, 2011 [48 favorites]


I love my credit unions and small local banks. Fuck yes. And cash. I loves me some cash transactions.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:33 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


(they also refund your ATM fees)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:33 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ha. I didn't even make it that far with BoA. I opened a simple checking account--I just wanted a simple debit card to purchase things online. When I opened the account, back around late 2003, it was free. A few years later, they started charging me something like $10 every month, just for having an account. "Maintenance Fee", the $10 was listed as. I'm not sure having an account on your database costs BoA ten bucks a month. In fact, I know it doesn't. I called to see if I could get the fee waived, and was told I have to have something like $3,000 minimum in the account at all times; for that account I never had more than a few hundred bucks, and sometimes it dropped to just a few bucks.

What was infuriating is this increase was after BoA got bailed out in billions (?) by taxpayer money, and they still thought of another angle to squeeze the powerless masses. Seems like they are continuing this strategy.

I opened an account with US Bank, and they have (knock on wood) a truly free account. BoA can kiss my ass, I'll never use them again, and I implore everyone and anyone to close their BoA account and open an account with a local credit union. I'd rather stuff my mattress full of cash than be robbed by those crooks.
posted by zardoz at 6:35 PM on September 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


They can't explain. It's because BoA is fundamentally insolvent.
posted by ofthestrait at 6:37 PM on September 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


Please look into your local credit union before jumping to online-only banking. Keep your money in your town, where it benefits your community!
posted by headnsouth at 6:37 PM on September 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'm a member of a credit union and I actually get 10 cents back on every debit card purchase.

Why don't more Americans join credit unions? This baffles me.
posted by Avenger at 6:39 PM on September 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


cheerleader: "CREDIT"
crowd: "UNION!"
cheerleader:"CREDIT"
crowd : "UNION!!"
heerleader: "CREDIT"
crowd: "UNION!!!"

That's the little cheer I hear in my head whenever I go to my local credit union. Though they could work on their website.
posted by localhuman at 6:40 PM on September 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Does the fee apply if you only use your debit card as a credit card? Because I never, ever punch my passcode into a retail terminal.
posted by COD at 6:41 PM on September 29, 2011


While I'm here... AmEx does a card with 6% cashback at supermarkets, 3% at gas stations and department stores, and 1% everywhere else
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:41 PM on September 29, 2011


Eat the rich. Fuck their pets. Then eat the pets. Adopt their pets.
posted by Trurl at 6:41 PM on September 29, 2011 [36 favorites]


lalochezia - "(Credit union.) x N"

I'm a member of a credit union, but credit unions are still a business with a bottom line.

The North Shore Credit Union opened up a "Boutique ATM Branch" on the ground floor of my 3 storey apartment building. The owners of the building installed modern high-efficiency (read: high powered) HVAC units on the wooden roof (to get tax breaks for being "environmentally friendly"). They cause an unacceptable amount of noise and vibration. Building owner cares (but cares more about his pocket book), the management company doesn't give a crap, and the credit union - when informed of the situation - told us to take it up with the management company and washed their hands.

Blood hell; their advertising campaign involves using the phrase "Very Open" and they leave the front doors open haemoraging cold air into the hot summer streets, or now, warm air into the chilly windy autumn streets which causes the HVACs to run near constantly, and they've started leave them on overnight now.

About that bottom line? It'd cost them unbudgeted funds to replace the high efficiency units with the old versions. Burning electricity with unsound heating/cooling practices were budgeted, as part of the advertising campaign.

There are never any customers in the boutique ATM and all of their sharply dressed employees look terminally bored. I really hope they fold sooner rather than later (my moving is an expense that I cannot afford right now).

Credit unions aren't saints - and then again, saints aren't necessarily really saints.
posted by porpoise at 6:42 PM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Apparently (obviously?) big banks are not that great at operating normal-person bank accounts:

Big banks actually spend more on average to operate each deposit account than small banks, and they have long relied on overdraft fee income to help subsidize free checking. But a 2009 regulation restricted banks' abilities to charge overdraft fees, which prompted the first wave of cutbacks in free checking.

Conversely, it costs less on average for smaller banks to operate checking accounts and they historically relied less on overdraft fee income...


Which is a bit ironic after decades of consolidation in consumer banking.
posted by ghharr at 6:43 PM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


USAA FTW. They offer a swathe of awesome plans, even if you're not a veteran.
posted by Lord_Pall at 6:44 PM on September 29, 2011 [22 favorites]


Seriously, the only useful things my father ever gave me were half my DNA and the ability to be a USAA member.
posted by padraigin at 6:46 PM on September 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


Why don't more Americans join credit unions? This baffles me.

You know, you're right. I nosed around our State Employees Credit Union a few months ago, looking for a back door if you're not a state employee (some places offer a yearly fee option, I've read), but got turned away. No dice. I let that stop me, but now I see Coastal Federal Credit Union has locations in Raleigh. Wells Fargo is set to take over my Wachovia account in a couple of weeks.

I now plan to be gone by then.
posted by mediareport at 6:46 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Avenger: "Why don't more Americans join credit unions? This baffles me."

Speaking only for myself: Until I moved to a generally credit union friendly state (Washington), and made a job change that made me actually eligible for credit union membership (grad student), I couldn't have gotten into one.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:47 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have to wonder if this is also going to impinge upon debit card purchases made @ Amazon and/or other online vendors that people use their bank accounts through their debit card. Most of my local and/or personal bills (electric, car insurance, etc and etc) is drafted from the bank acct without using the number off the debit card but I do purchase lots from Amazon and elsewhere and they absolutely want that debit card number, and not a bank acct number, and who can blame them -- not I.

So far nothing from my bank (Frost Bank -- Texas owned, HQ in San Antonio, nary a wall streeter in the bunch) no word from them on any hike(s). I am with Frost because I want to be able to walk into someones office and see a real live human being, and if I don't get satisfaction from them I can walk up the chain, and San Antone an hour south. When I call them, there is no being put on hold for twenty minutes, it's not at all faceless. I left Chase and ever so glad I did.

I have to think that it's going to cost the banks more when we start using checks again; that check processing is not cheap. Should you decide to use checks again, make certain that you buy them on your own, don't let your bank in on that stream.
posted by dancestoblue at 6:47 PM on September 29, 2011


In Canada most bank accounts have a set number of "free transactions", above which you have to pay for things like debit payments, withdrawals, transfers etc. Vendors also have to pay a fee for debit payment processing. Our big 5 banks completely escaped the global meltdown and continue to rake in record profits. What a racket.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:47 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The more one thinks about this, the more the demise of Bank of America seems both inevitable and preferable.

1) Prop trading and greedy mortgages destroyed the balance sheet
2) We bailed them out
3) Execs walk with bonuses
4) They are still in trouble
5) Hence this fee.

I don't understand too big to fail. I understand too big to work. Monolith crack into tiny pieces. There is sadness for many. There is no sadness here.

The leach is trying to find more blood to suck.

GIVE THE LEACH NO MORE BLOOD.
posted by nickrussell at 6:48 PM on September 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


Honestly, the Durbin amendment is really stupid. I'm all for safer and saner financial regulation, but the Durbin amendment isn't it.

The Durbin amendment was apparently intended to protect consumers by regulating the fees that could be charged for each debit card purchase. Banks can only charge 26 cents plus a certain percentage on each debit card purchase (they used to be able to charge more).

It has basically the opposite effect it was intended to have. This is because consumers never saw the fee. The merchants had to eat the fee on each transaction. They would do this because taking debit cards let them reach a wider market. But now, the 26 cent limitation has cut out a big chunk of banks profits. How are the banks going to make this up? By putting new charges on their customers. Like BOFA is doing right now.

So basically this new rule has taken costs off of merchants, and put them onto the consumer. The real winners here are giant retail operations that take debit cards, like Wal-Mart and Target, who will save big-time from the price limitations.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 6:48 PM on September 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


Except, by making the fee visible, you encourage people to move to smaller banks. And, Wal-Mart and Target don't aren't real winners. Proportionally, this helps smaller merchants more. People easily drop a few bills at the big all-under-one-roof stores, yet Wal Mart is still paying only one fee since it's one purchase. The little store that you visit a couple times a week for smallish orders was getting hit harder.
posted by spaltavian at 6:52 PM on September 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


HabeasCorpus: "The real winners here are giant retail operations that take debit cards, like Wal-Mart and Target, who will save big-time from the price limitations."

(Not that Wal-Mart are exactly saints, but) that one of these organizations got lots and lots of federal bailout money, and the other did significantly better than FEMA did at providing relief after Katrina feels sort of relevant to me here.

Besides, Wal-Mart and Target only win if that's where you're using your debit card most of the time: I don't like feeling guilty making the guy who runs the convenience store down the street pay a little extra because I like carrying plastic instead of cash. If you're looking for a real "little guy", for whom those fees really add up, it's him.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:53 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do not understand why anyone gives any business at all to major commercial banks. Credit unions may not be perfect, but they are far and away your best bet when it comes to banking. I am in love with mine. They are awesome and I wouldn't go back to a commercial bank for anything.

Anyone who banks with folks like BoA, Chase or Wells Fargo really does deserve the misery of being their customer.
posted by perilous at 6:55 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


It has basically the opposite effect it was intended to have. This is because consumers never saw the fee. The merchants had to eat the fee on each transaction. They would do this because taking debit cards let them reach a wider market. But now, the 26 cent limitation has cut out a big chunk of banks profits. How are the banks going to make this up? By putting new charges on their customers. Like BOFA is doing right now.

Well, another way to think of it is that previously merchants passed the fees on to all customers through higher prices no matter what payment method they used and debit card users got to free-ride a little bit by sharing the cost with people who made cash transactions. Now debit card users pay (what the banks say) is the cost of their convenience or they can take their banking business to someone who will offer them a better deal.
posted by ghharr at 6:56 PM on September 29, 2011


There's always BitCoin.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:57 PM on September 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yep, Regions customer here...I just moved one of my accounts to Charles Shwab online checking because it had everything I was looking for: no fees (including ATM fees...they refund ALL of them back to you), mobile access (even check deposit by cameraphone), bill pay. I never go to a physical bank, so online-only is good by me. Sorry Regions, but you aren't worth an extra $50 a year.
posted by griffey at 6:58 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see BoA and friends explain why community banks seem to be doing just fine under the crushing weight of Dodd-Frank, but they are forced (They're so sorry! Their hands are tied!) to extract money from customers in yet another way.

In a lot of ways, Dodd-Frank is good for these smaller banks, because there's a lot of new limitations (bars against proprietary trading, designating certain financial institutions as "systematically important" and forcing them to draft living wills, higher capital requirements,etc.) that hurt the way larger financial institutions do business, but don't really effect the way smaller banks do business. A lot of small, community banks aren't nearly as leveraged to begin with, and engage in traditional banking business (read: making loans) rather than the more risky and exotic forms of moneymaking that larger, national banks have (i.e. proprietary trading, use of derivatives, etc.).

So Dodd-Frank might actually end up shifting business to smaller banks. The idea of massive national banks is really only something that developed in the recent past. It's only been the past few decades, with the repeal of portions of Glass-Steagall, and widened regulations by the Fed., etc., that we've seen national banks become such huge players. For a lot of American history, there were smaller, more regulated banks (and credit unions, savings and loans, etc.) that engaged in relatively traditional and less-risky lending practices. Looking at what happened in 2008, was this really a bad way of banking?

Except, by making the fee visible, you encourage people to move to smaller banks.

That's actually a really good point.

Well, another way to think of it is that previously merchants passed the fees on to all customers through higher prices no matter what payment method they used and debit card users got to free-ride a little bit by sharing the cost with people who made cash transactions.

This could be true, and is often a counterpoint to the argument I gave above. But I dunno if I agree, simply because it seems to me that the ubiquitous nature of the debit card meant that should you not accept them, you would be effectively closing yourself out of the market. I suppose somehow, that translates to higher prices for consumers, especially for big operations like wal-mart, which are notorious for trying to lower their consumer prices at all costs.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 7:03 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Y'all sold me. Especially because my neighborhood credit union offers bike loans. Not that I need another bike. Well, maybe.

The only reason I've continued with BOA is because they have ATMs everywhere in the US, and agreements with other countries to offer free ATM use. Has anyone been pinged for using overseas ATMs with their credit union?
posted by loriginedumonde at 7:05 PM on September 29, 2011


*affect* not *effect*. I swear I know the difference!
posted by HabeasCorpus at 7:05 PM on September 29, 2011


Yeah Wells Fargo gave my wife the hard sell on some stuff like this and I hated them anyway. Now we bank at a small local bank with friendly people and no ridiculous policies.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:07 PM on September 29, 2011


So, you people yelling Credit Union want to tell me where I can pull that off in New York City?

I banked at local banks and credit unions exclusively until moving here, where it seems to be basically impossible if you're not already a member of a trade union or employed in some very specific industry. I am a freelancer (and no, I can't afford to join the Freelancer's Union, ha ha yes the irony is not lost on me).

I caved and got a BofA account, but this here news is some bullshit, and I'd love for someone to tell me about an alternative.
posted by pts at 7:07 PM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


You're also about to get hosed by Visa and MasterCard every time you buy that [insert small purchase item here] with a debit card, regardless of where you bank or who issued your credit card. Note: No credit union safe harbor here.
posted by webhund at 7:15 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're also about to get hosed by Visa and MasterCard every time you buy that [insert small purchase item here] with a debit card, regardless of where you bank or who issued your credit card. Note: No credit union safe harbor here.

Those are interchange fees charged to merchants so it's only an indirect hosing (splashing?) through higher prices.
posted by ghharr at 7:23 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


pts - E*Trade. Online banking is good, and they refund your atm fees. You can keep a brick & mortar account to pass thru cash deposits if necessary.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:24 PM on September 29, 2011


Bank of America - one of only four companies I will never, ever, ever do business with again. (AT+T, Comcast, and Capital One are the others.)

For basically any consumer transaction you can think of - savings, checking, CDs, loans, mortgages - there are better alternatives with fewer (or no!) hidden or scammy fees.

I have been BofA free since 2007. I am glad to know more will soon be free of them.
posted by andreaazure at 7:24 PM on September 29, 2011


Well that sucks. It's $5 monthly though, right? Not $5 per transaction?

Based on the conversation here, I'm thinking about looking for a credit union to move my money to, but what are the drawbacks, assuming I am not going to stay in the area I'm in longer than a few years, and might move even after that. Right now I'm fee-less. What are the drawbacks of credit unions - few atms? fewer merchants you can use online bill pay for? Fees with certain transactions or problems getting your card accepted? Few locations? Anybody want to talk about the downsides of credit unions, just so some of us can get an accurate sense of what to expect?

Otherwise, I'd just be inclined to try to the few dollars per month elsewhere. Or otherwise get around it by, say, buying those visa gift cards to make online purchases.
posted by furious at 7:24 PM on September 29, 2011


Of course you all realize that the places you use your card have always been (hosed) charged a fee to let you use your card. Up to 5% for those stupid rewards cards some people carry around. I love it when a customer digs around in their wallet for the card that sticks me with the highest percent while I just have to smile and be so glad they're shopping here.

I understand people love the convenience, lord knows I do. And I am over a barrel and have no choice but to go along with it. But when paying with plastic starts to get way more expensive for the consumer and cash and (in my case) paper checks come back into the limelight, I will be so happy.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:25 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


How not to solve a financial crisis: Make it difficult and expensive for consumers to spend their own money.

Seriously. Bank of America and the other banks considering these fees may finally get the vilification that they deserve.
posted by schmod at 7:28 PM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Banks. Suck.

Visa and MasterCard BLOWS.

Extortion and usury--may they all rot in finance hell.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:29 PM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sometimes, I find myself getting jealous of the fancy ATMs that Bank of America has. The ones that let you deposit checks without needing an envelope, for example.

But then I hear about things like this and I figure I'm getting along just fine using the envelopes after all.
posted by erstwhile at 7:30 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I understand people love the convenience, lord knows I do. And I am over a barrel and have no choice but to go along with it. But when paying with plastic starts to get way more expensive for the consumer and cash and (in my case) paper checks come back into the limelight, I will be so happy

If you ignored the cost to you as a merchant is there any way that cash or checks are better than plastic?

I'm not a merchant so I can only guess but I imagine there are way more drawbacks with paper. Why do so many places not take checks now, even though it would save them a little bit in fees? Checks are an absolutely terrible, outdated payment technology and cash is a pain in the ass in a lot of ways too.
posted by ghharr at 7:34 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Consumer protection laws kick in which require banks to limit the fees they charge. So they invent new fees to charge consumers.

Seriously, seek out a small bank or credit union. Ditch the giant ones. The small banks aren't affected by the new laws the same way as the giants.

Either that, or be prepared to pay dearly for the convenience of being with one of the giants. If it's worth the checking account fee ($10/month and up) and the debit card fee ($5/month or more) and all the other fees they'll invent for the convenience you've become accustomed to, then by all means, stay with the giants. But don't think it's going to stop at $15/month simply to have them hold onto your money and use it as leverage within their bank... They'll keep inventing fees until they hit that magic spot where they start to drive away more customers than the continued increase in fees can cover. What is that for you, personally? $25/month? $50/month? $100/month, just to access your own money???

Do the research. Find a new bank or a credit union or some other alternate that is smaller and less convenient but isn't going to charge you these fees. Either that, or resign yourself to recurring monthly charges equal to or greater than a cell phone subscription simply to access your money.
posted by hippybear at 7:38 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bank of America and the other banks considering these fees may finally get the vilification that they deserve.

Because people love banks so much right now?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:38 PM on September 29, 2011


"Why do so many places not take checks now, even though it would save them a little bit in fees?"

Bad checks and fraud. If you run a small business do you really have the time to invest to try and recover the money from a guy who wrote you a check for $38 when he only had $12 in his account?
posted by MikeMc at 7:39 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I highly recommend opening a second account at a credit union or small bank even if you plan on continuing with your current bank. It will make it much easier to jump ship when the time comes.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:42 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now that Wells Fargo is taking over my current bank (Wachovia), I'm seriously considering going elsewhere. Their $3/month debit card plan is only in a limited area right now, but I'm not convinced they won't expand it at some point.

I've been looking at USAA, but I'm not sure if it's the right thing for me. It certainly looks attractive, though.
posted by Telpethoron at 7:44 PM on September 29, 2011


RE why more folks don't join credit unions...

There are two better known credit unions here in the metro Phoenix area: Desert Schools and Tempe Schools credit unions. Their interest rate on their basic savings account, taken from their web site, is bafflingly abysmal.

My Chase savings account only pays 0.15% (yes, that's only 15-hundredths of a percent) per year. But Tempe Schools Credit Union's basic savings account pays...wait for it...0.01% (one one-hundredth of a percent) per year. Note that there are NO bonus rates for depositing even $100k with them.

So if you leave $10,000 in savings at Chase, you'll have $10015 at the end of a year. At Tempe Schools Credit Union, you'll have a whopping $10,001. Desert Schools is better than this, but still not as good as Chase Bank. If someone could explain to me why this is so, I'd dearly love to understand it. But as it is, it doesn't reflect well on the credit unions here.
posted by darkstar at 7:44 PM on September 29, 2011


If you ignored the cost to you as a merchant is there any way that cash or checks are better than plastic?

no, but there will always be some cost, as it is a complicated service that someone will have to pay for.

Checks work great for me, but I sell bread and cheese in a magical suburb where no one ever, ever bounces checks (so, you know, that's just me). And cash is awesome. I suppose my banking would go a little faster if I accepted NO cash. And keeping the till happily stocked with change takes about 30 minutes of effort a week.

But really, the card transaction are 60% of my business, the fee is different for every card but averages out at about 2.5%. So, 1.4% of GROSS REVENUE goes to these guys. I would so much rather than money went the bakers, the suppliers, and the IRS.

For perspective, my VISA/MC fees add up to more than my store's rent.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:49 PM on September 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


If someone could explain to me why this is so, I'd dearly love to understand it. But as it is, it doesn't reflect well on the credit unions here.

Credit unions don't pay interest on deposits. CUs are member owned non-profits and in lieu of interest you get dividends. The dividends are tiny, especially with the current rock bottom interest rates, but then again the fees are pretty low as well.
posted by MikeMc at 7:49 PM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


You are allowed to put your money into multiple institutions, you know. You can have a savings account at one place and a checking at another.

We do have a brick and mortar bank account (basically the baby account that teenagers get, with no fees and limited ability to even use it), because in my business it's handy sometimes, to be able to get cashiers' checks and such without a wait, but damn, people, if your dad or mom was in the military, get you some USAA stat.
posted by padraigin at 7:52 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wifey and I just started a relationship with a credit union. We had a little windfall, and decided, "we've always talked about joining a credit union to rebuild credit, why not now?" We deliberately left the checkbook at home to avoid jumping the gun, but we were downright amazed at how...useful...the credit union sounded. Due to recent bankruptcy and student loan problems, US Bank -- who I used to work for, and who Wifey has banked with for decades -- wouldn't let us open a savings account. Seriously, what reason does a bank have to decline a savings account, let alone for an existing customer? They weren't the only big-bank to decline to open a savings account due to credit history. It's downright crazy.

The credit union was happy to open not one, but two savings accounts: one that's easy to get at and a low interest rate, and one with a higher rate that's more like a CD and harder to get at. Guess which bank got our money? I learned in school that banks make their money due to lending cash in savings to people at higher interest rates; a bank that refuses to hold money in savings can't be that successful of a bank. Here's to you, Credit Union, who seems to know how things work.

(note: we still have our US Bank totally-free checking account, because we've got too many automatic payments set up and it's not worth the hassle....but you can bet the day US Bank charges us a fee for checking, we're closing everything down)
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:52 PM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]



So if you leave $10,000 in savings at Chase, you'll have $10015 at the end of a year.



That $15 in fees will be eaten up by the average $132/yr in fees compared to $35/yr in fees that credit union customers pay.

Yes, old survey, and dubious methodolgy, but I grinds me axe, and in this case it's more of occams razor than axe.
posted by lalochezia at 7:53 PM on September 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yeah, this is really the last straw for me and BoA (it's been a long and unhappy road). I think I'm calling USAA tomorrow.
posted by naoko at 7:54 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love to leave BoA and switch to a credit union, but the only one I'm eligible for (as far as I can tell) is my employer's and it'd still cost me $5 since I wouldn't have enough money in there and none of the ATMs are close to my house.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 8:00 PM on September 29, 2011


So if you leave $10,000 in savings at Chase, you'll have $10015 at the end of a year. At Tempe Schools Credit Union, you'll have a whopping $10,001. Desert Schools is better than this, but still not as good as Chase Bank. If someone could explain to me why this is so, I'd dearly love to understand it. But as it is, it doesn't reflect well on the credit unions here.

The interest on any savings account is pathetically low right now. The way bank accounts theoretically work is that they take the money you keep in your account and loan it to people to buy houses and jetskis and stuff and they take the profit from those loans and kick a little bit of it back to you to encourage you to continue leaving your money with them so they can continue making money with it.

Right now the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates really low to try to juice the economy so banks can borrow money from people that are not you for almost nothing and aren't particularly interested in enticing you to save money (which is part of the Fed plan, they want you spending). Your $10,000 savings account is really mostly a pain in the ass to Chase right now, but they'll kick you just enough interest to keep you as a customer because savings customers might turn into mortgage or auto loan customers or checking account customers who screw up and have to pay fees.

However, online-only banks have lower costs and can pay more interest. ING Direct is at 1.00% for savings right now, your $10,000 could become $10,100!
posted by ghharr at 8:01 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Almost forgot...since credit unions are member owned every depositor is also a shareholder and entitled to vote for the Board of Directors.
posted by MikeMc at 8:04 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dave Allen, 1993: "The images of the banks, which were at one time the Caring Bank. We are the Caring Bank. We are the Listening Bank, We're the Friendly Bank. We're the Open Bank. We're the Bank That Likes to Say 'Yes, Bank!' Now it's changed totally. Now it's Are You Out of Your Mind Bank? Piss Off, Bank! Get Out of Here You Asshole Bank! We Don't Give a Shit Bank. We're told that the economy of High Street depends on us. The people spending our money. Now to help the economy of the country, the banks arrange credit for us by letting us have credit cards. And we, to help the economy, take these credit cards and spend money that we don't have. And these bastards charge us for that! And we're grateful!"
posted by ed at 8:06 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aren't many university alumni associations linked to a Credit Union?
posted by jeffburdges at 8:07 PM on September 29, 2011


People are all like, "Why would anyone use Bank of America? Why not use a credit union?"

For myself, it's the convenience of the ATMs. And when I say "convenience" I mean "an ATM situated less than 20 miles away." No joke. And I get a lot of payments by check, so "convenient ATMs" is not just a frivolous thrill.

Meanwhile, 'm looking into getting an account at a credit union, but they don't make it easy. And I live in a state (WA) which is thick with credit unions. If Credit Union #5 accepts me, I guess that's a "Yay." It will save me the tyranny of Bank of America's ridiculous new "We Hate Poor People: GTFO" fee schedule.

On the other hand, it will mean that every time I want to deposit a check (2-6 per month) I'll have to drive 20 miles each way to do it.
posted by ErikaB at 8:07 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: obligatory link to Louis CK on bank fees.
posted by ErikaB at 8:08 PM on September 29, 2011


Suddenly I love my credit union more than ever. Although I still also have a checking account with Bank of America - the one I opened at Fleet as a teenager. I should do something about that...
posted by pemberkins at 8:09 PM on September 29, 2011


I realize I am sort of taking a bit of wind out of my argument, but my bank has a fee for, hold onto your hat, depositing too much cash. it's of course waaay less than the visa fees, but still.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:11 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sooooo, does anyone have recommendations for a good credit union in Minneapolis?
posted by triggerfinger at 8:11 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


erikaB -- You're screwed either way. If time isn't a factor you can mail your deposits to the credit unions.

But now you might understand that they don't want you as a customer.

Back when they could rack up overdraft fees on you, then hell yeah, here's some "free" checking.

Sorry. Overmedicated. Overstimulated. Over frickin everything money related.

The game is rigged. The war on poverty is now the war on the poor. And guess what? The poor is roughly 40% of us. Yay.
posted by yesster at 8:13 PM on September 29, 2011


darkstar said: So if you leave $10,000 in savings at Chase, you'll have $10015 at the end of a year.

lalochezia said: That $15 in fees will be eaten up by the average $132/yr in fees compared to $35/yr in fees that credit union customers pay.


If you've got $10,000 in savings at Chase, chances are you won't be stuck with all those fees. If you get an account there and are able to keep their required minimum amount in it, and you pay off your credit card purchases in full every month, you don't get fees unless you're doing fancy things like balance transfers. Chase's general fees are aimed at the people who have far less than $10,000 in their account.

Also, I've never used a debit card. I had my bank send me an ATM-only card that doesn't function as a debit card. I like it that way, though the bank seemed to really want me to get a debit card, probably because they like charging people fees for using them.
posted by wondermouse at 8:14 PM on September 29, 2011


Why would anyone use Bank of America?

inertia - i've had my checking account for 13 years and have my paycheck deposited into it

funny thing, it was michigan national bank when i opened it - then it was standard mutual - then la salle bank - and now, here i am with bank of america
posted by pyramid termite at 8:17 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm putting all my money in Mattress of America, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Premises Guarded by Rifle Fire, Unlimited.
posted by Edogy at 8:19 PM on September 29, 2011 [19 favorites]


One reason I stuck with WaMu for so long was because my credit union choices here in Seattle absolutely sucked. The School Employees Credit Union had two branches and a crappy online banking system. The Washington State Employees Credit Union had a software system so bad we had to put every account in both our names in order to be able to transfer money between our accounts. (We each have a personal account and pay our bills out of a joint account, being modern married folk and all.)

And then we tried to get a loan to roll up credit card debt and ended up with an expensive signature loan. A month later, during a "hey we're trying to buy a house" visit to the branch, the loan officer looks at the terminal and says, "why do you have this personal loan?" We said to roll up credit card debt so we can pay it down. "Uh, why did they give you a signature loan? We could have put it through on the WSECU credit card at a much lower interest rate."

We fired them once I got a windfall to pay off the loan.

That said, I'm with BECU now (having switched from WaMu a week before they were shotgun-married to Chase), which is like the fourth or fifth largest credit union in America, pays 6% on the first $500 deposited, and while it runs a lot of these "ATM branches" actually staffs them with real people.

So to all of you thinking credit union -- shop around. There are good ones and bad ones. Get one part of the CO-OP credit union ATM system. Look for a good return on your money. Look for one with convenient branches (and some sort of reciprocal deposit network in your area). Check the Bankrate credit union ratings to see if they're stable banks or not.

That said, I'd recommend a credit union to anyone who can find the right one for them.
posted by dw at 8:20 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


ErikaB: Not sure where in WA you live... I open up my Spokane area yellow pages to "Banking" and find listings for (not exhaustive list) AmericanWest Bank, Bank Of Fairfield, Bank Of Whitman, Banner Bank, Coastal Community Bank, Continental Savings Bank, First Security Bank, F&M Bank, Inland Northwest Bank, Intermountain Community Bank, Mountain West Bank, River Bank, State Bank Northwest, Sterling Savings Bank, Washington Trust Bank and Wheatland Bank. And that doesn't even get into credit unions -- that's just smaller banks which likely don't fall under the same fee rules which are causing the giants to raise fees as reported in this FPP.

Surely if you opened the yellow pages for the area you live in to "banking", you'd find many possibilities you haven't considered, possibly many of them closer than 20 miles to where you live.
posted by hippybear at 8:20 PM on September 29, 2011


So my daughter had to get a BofA account because somehow, they're the only bank with ATMs one her college campus (and they push that fact on Freshmen, and actively solicit their business - nice little micro-monopoly) so she set up a "no fee" internet-only account, which means basically no human interaction. Auto-deposit, debit card & ATM access only. They charge $5.00 per window transaction if you go to a branch in person. Last month, I needed to get her $100.00 quickly, so I but the bullet and wrote a check, accepting the one-time $5.00 fee. This month, my ex-wife transfered some money into her account for her to buy a car with, and they said "Oops too many in-person transactions! You now have a standard account, with an $8.00 fee per month." So, for the crime of putting over $2000.00 INTO their bank, they've changed her account type, and will be charging her an ongoing fee. Despite (I'm sure it's in fine print somewhere) advertising it as a one-time per-transaction fee.

I'm pretty steamed, and we'll be seeking an alternative right away. Once she's got a car, she won't be tied to the on-campus ATMs, and screw 'em, we're outta there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:23 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


furious:
Based on the conversation here, I'm thinking about looking for a credit union to move my money to, but what are the drawbacks, assuming I am not going to stay in the area I'm in longer than a few years, and might move even after that. Right now I'm fee-less. What are the drawbacks of credit unions - few atms? fewer merchants you can use online bill pay for? Fees with certain transactions or problems getting your card accepted? Few locations? Anybody want to talk about the downsides of credit unions, just so some of us can get an accurate sense of what to expect?

loriginedumonde:
The only reason I've continued with BOA is because they have ATMs everywhere in the US, and agreements with other countries to offer free ATM use. Has anyone been pinged for using overseas ATMs with their credit union?

Many (most?) credit unions share ATMs through the CO-OP/PLUS Network (ATM locator). I've never paid a fee for using an ATM with the CO-OP or PLUS symbol, either to my own credit union or to the owner of the ATM, and that includes transactions in the four non-North American countries I've visited since joining.

furious, I haven't had any of the other problems you wondered about, either. I recently moved across the U. S. and was originally planning to move my account to a local institution, but the total absence of inconvenience has prevented me from getting around to it. Sorry I can't talk about the downsides!
posted by aws17576 at 8:24 PM on September 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


I bank at a local community bank, and they have our business accounts as well. They know me when I call or walk in the door. Online banking is as good as any big bank. They service my mortgage in-house. Fifteen bucks a month for checking? No problem!

Not everyone has access to community banks but if you do they're a great alternative and your money works locally.
posted by wallabear at 8:25 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify, the 0.01% rate I quoted for Tempe Schools Credit Union IS the annual dividend rate. Which basically means they'l be happy to hold onto your money for free.

Desert Schools is much better, with an annual dividend rate of 0.10%, but it's still significantly less than Chase's 0.15%.

(I don't ever overdraw my account and have enough in the bank to avoid monthly fees, so that's not an issue. It just strikes me as really odd that a non-profit credit union would pay significantly less APY than a for-profit bank.)
posted by darkstar at 8:25 PM on September 29, 2011


Devil's Rancher: I'd suggest looking at UPside Card. It's a prepaid debit card which allows money transfers via many methods (including through electronic funds transfer, something with BofA doesn't allow, but many other banks do allow, and via Green Dot, which is available basically everywhere) and is pretty low cost overall. I'm generally bank-phobic, but have an UPside Card, and find it generally a positive experience.
posted by hippybear at 8:28 PM on September 29, 2011


Maybe this was the scandal that WikiLeaks was going to warn us about.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:29 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Christ, this sounds just like Facebook complainers. If you don't like these surcharges, just don't use money!
posted by KokuRyu at 8:29 PM on September 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'd suggest looking at UPside Card.

Thanks, I will. Getting money out of UFCU in Texas and into BofA in Florida has been a real hassle all along.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:30 PM on September 29, 2011


I love it when a customer digs around in their wallet for the card that sticks me with the highest percent while I just have to smile and be so glad they're shopping here.

Aren't you?
posted by spitbull at 8:30 PM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Credit union. Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.

I'm sorry, but my experience with credit unions gives me more faith in the banking capabilities of Smurfs.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:30 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you don't like these surcharges, just don't use money banking services from one of the giants which are subject to the new fee schedules mandated by congress!
posted by hippybear at 8:31 PM on September 29, 2011


I opened an account WaMu 11 years ago. So I still have a Chase account. I'm fully convinced they are evil, but I haven't had a compelling reason to change to a credit union. I tried to join Washington State Employees Credit Union right before I started work but they wouldn't let me (I think because I didn't have my employee identification card yet). Spending real time to open a new account with a credit union and transfer all my finances there, knowing that it will be less convenient than Chase in any number of ways is not that appealing.
posted by grouse at 8:34 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Devil's Rancher: as long as UFCU lets you do ACH funds transfers, you're golden. Once you have the path set up (which can take as long as a week), it takes 2-3 days for each ACH transfer after that. It's as simple as typing things into your online banking access to get it done, and it's free.

Otherwise, Green Dot costs a bit of money, but is as instantaneous as typing the number of the transfer into your account loading window.

I've been an UPside Card member for over a year now, and the only complaint I have is that they fucked up their online account display for a while so it looked like every transaction where I got cash along with a purchase was being double-debited. They've since fixed that.
posted by hippybear at 8:35 PM on September 29, 2011


Despite extolling their virtues on a regular basis, I haven't switched to a credit union because their hours are sucky and I need to be able to go in to get a wad of cash for rent on a monthly basis (more than the $200 per shot that ATMS allow), and would prefer not to have to take time off work to do so.

Also, although Chase as an organization is evil, the tellers at the branch near my work are sweetie pies.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:39 PM on September 29, 2011


I have been a member of BECU since 1993. I have never had reason to complain, lots of ATMs are available around the Seattle metro area, and I can do online banking. I don't know what the banks would offer that BECU already provides, but I'm pretty happy with my credit union.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:39 PM on September 29, 2011


dw, if I had $10,000 in my savings account, I don't think I'd give a damn about $15. Putting money in savings for the interest died in the 80s.
posted by gngstrMNKY at 8:39 PM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


(they also refund your ATM fees)

Yeah, no kidding. I'm always having to go driving around in circles with people who are looking for a branch of their bank so they can extract money without paying a $5 fee. Because I bank with a kick ass credit union, I just stop at any convenient atm, click "ok" to the fee, and enjoy not seeing that fee on my monthly statement.

Seriously, when we first stopped in at the credit union to ask questions (spurred, I think, by similar recommendations here on MeFi), I got all suspicious and wondered if it was a scam. What, no fees? Super low loan rates? All kinds of convenient goodness?

I guess it could still turn out to be some crazy Ponzi scheme, but for now I'm going to enjoy the personal service and fair business practices. I'll never deal with a national bank again.
posted by Forktine at 8:40 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another cool thing about the CO-OP ATM network is that 7-Eleven ATMs are in network. Though I seem to be spending more on Blue Raspberry Slurpees now than I used to on ATM fees.
posted by hwyengr at 8:49 PM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I love it when a customer digs around in their wallet for the card that sticks me with the highest percent while I just have to smile and be so glad they're shopping here.

Aren't you?


An answer to that question was built into my statement. Hint: yes, of course. My point was that I have no choice.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:49 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If anyone in the Bay Area needs a new bank, I highly recommend The Mechanics Bank. If you can set up direct deposit, or do one of these 5 other things, there's no fees and ATM surcharge rebates. Plus they are TOTALLY nice. Like almost creepy nice.
posted by grapesaresour at 8:50 PM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, but my experience with credit unions gives me more faith in the banking capabilities of Smurfs.

How many credit unions have you used? Credit unions vary widely in size, and you can't paint them all with the same brush.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:51 PM on September 29, 2011


Yep, BECU is a really good one. King County Credit Union, (now called Prevail CU) is another good Seattle-area credit union.
posted by Windopaene at 8:53 PM on September 29, 2011


I don't know what the banks would offer that BECU already provides, but I'm pretty happy with my credit union.

Probably nothing. For me, the main advantage of a commercial bank is that I am already using one.
posted by grouse at 8:54 PM on September 29, 2011


Poor BofA- they only made $2 billion for the second quarter of 2011. Won't somebody think of the job creators(yeah right!) mega banks?
posted by small_ruminant at 8:54 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't mean to get bogged down in the details or be "poor me" about it. Just to point out that the statement "Why doesn't every one sign up with a credit union?" has a certain measure of unexamined geographic and financial privilege attached to it.

Hippybear, I live outside La Conner, roughly equidistant from Anacortes and Mount Vernon. I started with the closest credit unions, and am gradually working my way outwards.
posted by ErikaB at 8:56 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Until I moved to a generally credit union friendly state (Washington), and made a job change that made me actually eligible for credit union membership (grad student), I couldn't have gotten into one.

I won't speak for other states, but in WA there are credit unions for which the requirements to join are basically "do you live here?"

For example (this is not my credit union, just one I found on Google):

HAPO Community Credit Union offers membership to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Washington State. You may even become a member if you have a relative who is a member or is eligible to become a member.

To become a member of HAPO, you simply need to open a savings account with us. The minimum initial deposit to open a base savings account is $5. Once your account is open, HAPO membership, with all of its benefits, becomes a lifelong privilege. Even if you should leave the Tri-City area, the state, or the country, you can still retain your HAPO membership.

posted by Forktine at 8:58 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've banks at the local teacher's credit union for years, and they've been amazing. There are no fees to speak of, and when my mom wrote me a $30,000 check to buy a car (so I could pay her a bit more interest than she was earning but less than I would have paid... Win/win), I took the check to the branch and without me even asking, because I didn't know it was an option, the teller offered to ask the manager to make the funds available immediately. No problem, and I bought my car that day.

Also, they offer a summer savings account that takes out whatever I want every month and pays 4.5% interest or so until I need the money in the summer. That's just a teacher thing, I assume.

There's a branch within 3 minutes and an ATM within 1, so that's not an issue for me.

I'm seriously considering refinancing the house with them and getting a credit card with them for emergencies and saying screw you to national banks.
posted by Huck500 at 8:59 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yo dog, we heard you like paying for things...
posted by No-sword at 9:01 PM on September 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


I recently moved across the U. S. and was originally planning to move my account to a local institution, but the total absence of inconvenience has prevented me from getting around to it.

Details? You have your money in South Carolina Credit Union but use ATMS in California. Okay, what about when you want to go into a branch for a cashier's check or something. I realize that if you've been with a credit union for a long time you might not know what someplace like bank of america offers that a credit union doesn't - like how would you know if bank of america allowed for tons more places to play with billpay, than your credit union. You wouldn't know if your credit union interface online didn't allow searching through past statements for the last 18 months by keyword, while your credit union doesn't have that. It's things like that that I'm interested in. But thinking about it, there probably aren't that many people who have that experience currently. And nobody wants to say "Yeah I switched to a credit union and now I miss these 5 features that the larger bank had." At least, not here.
posted by furious at 9:02 PM on September 29, 2011


After reading Metafilter for 10 years, I finally signed up for an account so I could post on this thread and nth the recommendation that people seek out their local credit union.

Yes, if you have a lot of money to invest, you probably will be able to get a higher rate on savings somewhere else, but for basic services - checking, debit & credit cards, online banking, etc - credit unions almost always will offer a better deal and/or lower fees. They generally also offer lower rates on loans for cars, personal loans, home improvement, and so on, although of course it pays to shop around.

pts, you can find a list of New York City credit unions here. While there still are credit unions that determine eligibility based only on employment, many have broadened their charters to take in geographic areas, like a certain ZIP code or neighborhood, and offer membership to anyone who lives, works, worships or goes to school in the designated area.

For example, one CU on the list of NYC CUs above is called Lower East Side People's Credit Union, and this is what they say about who can join:

"You are eligible to join the credit union if you:

Live, work, worship, or belong to an organization in the Lower East Side (Community Board 3) or Central Harlem (Community Board 10)
Earn less than $38,000 annually and live anywhere in New York City
Live in an HDFC co-op building, or in a building that participates in the DAMP program

OR

Are affiliated with one of the credit union’s partner organizations,* including:

Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Authority
Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP)
People’s Center for Economic Independence (PCEI)
Project Enterprise
Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB)
The Minkwon Center
Astor Wines and Spirits
Qualitas of Life, Inc
The Street Vendor Project"

That's a fairly broad field of membership, and many credit unions, especially in bigger cities, take in a similar variety of organizations & groups; sometimes you just have to keep looking until you find one you can join.

Most credit unions offer membership to family of current members. So, if you have a brother, sister, father, mother or grandparent who is a credit union member, you may be able to join their credit union as well.

Triggerfinger, there's a list of Minneapolis credit unions here.

Every state has a trade association of credit unions, often called a "league." If you contact your state league and tell them you're looking for a credit union to join, they will help you locate one. You can find a list of state leagues here.

Other online resources for finding a credit union:
National Credit Union Association's Find A Credit Union page
Credit Union Access
Credit Unions Online
CUlookup
FindACreditUnion.com

(Full disclosure: My first job out of college was working as a marketing person for a local credit union, and I continue to do occasional free-lance writing for CUs and associated groups.)
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 9:07 PM on September 29, 2011 [29 favorites]


"Why doesn't every one sign up with a credit union?" has a certain measure of unexamined geographic and financial privilege attached to it.

This is kind of where I'm at. I guess we both have our own little special cases. I'd love to switch but $5 a month isn't a big enough deterrent until I can get (the time to) look around and find enough information that assures me it's not going to come back and bite me when I need to go into a branch, hit up an atm, transfer money or pay bills. I used to belong to a credit union, but a long time ago.

Welcome, Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner! Thank you for the information.
posted by furious at 9:11 PM on September 29, 2011


I'm seriously considering refinancing the house with them

My original mortgage was with a national bank. Talk about a relationship full of "fuck you"s and aggravation. You'd try and phone them, and get stuck on hold, then they'd hang up; try again and get sent to an off-shore phone center where the people were super nice but knew nothing. They lost documents, then the mortgage got sold to a second bank that was as bad or worse. The whole experience was just miserable.

Refinancing with the credit union? It took one phone call to get things started and one visit in to sign some papers, almost zero fees, and an interest rate way below any of the national banks. If I have a question, I can call an actual person at an office near me, and they have the power to fix issues and solve problems. If I managed to create some really complicated situation, I know I could drive over to their main mortgage office and figure things out there, though I've never needed to.

Just to point out that the statement "Why doesn't every one sign up with a credit union?" has a certain measure of unexamined geographic and financial privilege attached to it.

There is definitely geographical privilege (because not having any credit unions nearby would suck), but I think less so financial privilege. Just stereotyping by how people dress and the details of their transactions I can overhear, a lot of the people using the branch of my credit union that I go to aren't particularly rich at all. I hear the tellers walking people through really small-scale financial stuff, plus the usual modern American poorness stuff (landlord issues, paycheck didn't arrive, etc). As long as you had a branch close-ish, I think a credit union or community bank would be far better for a poor person than a huge national bank.
posted by Forktine at 9:16 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


So much of what I've been reading in this thread is fodder for AskMe questions, one asking for this location, another asking for that location.

Heads up, you never know what might qualify you to get into a credit union -- I one time got into a credit union by attending a class at the local community college (it was a teachers credit union) so I got a fun class and great banking -- Hurray!
posted by dancestoblue at 9:20 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, furious! I hope folks here will find the info useful, and that it's not considered "shilling."
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 9:20 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just to point out that the statement "Why doesn't every one sign up with a credit union?" has a certain measure of unexamined geographic and financial privilege attached to it.
My local credit union has a $5 minimum balance with no monthly fees and they give you a starter check book (arrives by mail in a week), not just two starter checks. I fail to see how there's financial privilege associated with all credit unions when most credit unions have less requirements than every bank in a NY metro area.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:29 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


CUs are not a universal panacea. I was happy with the CU I joined when I was 15 (!) for a long time, but it was recently bought by a different credit union and started charging fees similar to this. So I left for... Wells Fargo (they had a branch across the street and have so far been free).

I am loathe to advertise for a big financial institution, so don't take this as an endorsement or anything. Just for me, personally, so far, it's worked out. That will probably change, though.
posted by kavasa at 9:30 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, what about when you want to go into a branch for a cashier's check or something. I realize that if you've been with a credit union for a long time you might not know what someplace like bank of america offers that a credit union doesn't - like how would you know if bank of america allowed for tons more places to play with billpay, than your credit union. You wouldn't know if your credit union interface online didn't allow searching through past statements for the last 18 months by keyword, while your credit union doesn't have that. It's things like that that I'm interested in.

I was with BofA before my credit union, I don't miss any of their services, and my credit union does offer the online banking feature you describe -- but still, you have a point. I was only speaking from my own (quite limited) experience.

Credit unions vary, a lot. Depositors' needs, even more. The only way to know if a credit union will work for you is to look into your local options. My point was that you might not want to let pessimistic expectations stop you from doing that, because credit unions can be awesome.
posted by aws17576 at 9:34 PM on September 29, 2011


Just want to say USAA USAA USAA! I rarely have a banking/insurance/investment interaction that doesn't end with me telling the rep how awesome they are and how great USAA is. And it's dang easy to talk to an actual person too!
posted by tingting at 9:35 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, USAA provides a rather convincing argument to enlist in the army....
posted by schmod at 9:42 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Credit unions vary, a lot. Depositors' needs, even more. The only way to know if a credit union will work for you is to look into your local options

Yep, that's pretty much it. kavasa, I don't think that credit unions are a panacea, and if Wells Fargo is offering you a better deal, then you're smart to take it. I do wonder what the heck your old credit union is thinking, though; raising fees post-merger could be a sign that they acquired a lot of low-balance or low-activity accounts, and are looking to shed some of them.

I guess I mostly just wanted to make the point that if someone would like to join a credit union, there are a number of ways to locate one, and getting in may be easier than you think, as the rules have changed considerably in the last 20 years.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 9:59 PM on September 29, 2011


Well, Chase charges us no fees for checking, savings, debit cards, or credit cards. Maybe it's because we have a mortgage with them and my salary is deposited automatically into our account. We also get 1% back on our mortgage and credit card payments. So not all big banks suck.
posted by Triplanetary at 10:05 PM on September 29, 2011


Wait, is this where we gush about USAA? Because I'm totally ready to let the juices flow!

darkstar - I used to bank with Desert Schools when I lived in Phx. I also banked with TruWest when my father worked for Motorola (both are credit unions, for those not AZ based). If it wasn't for the awesomeness of USAA I'd be with some credit union here now, in Tucson. I really enjoyed banking with those credit unions. I thought Desert Schools had good policies, friendly customer service, and it was super convenient being the closest ATM to my apartment. But...

USAA rocks my socks off. I am not a rich person. In fact, my husband and I are student poor. Yet we are treated like kings. Our checking account has no fees. All ATM transaction are refunded (up to $20 a month), I get .5% back using my debit card as credit, I get 1% back using my MC, their online bill pay is awesome...their whole website is awesome! I have never received such dag-gum nicer phone customer service. I don't know how they do it. I used to work customer service, and I wasn't even that nice to my mother. I recently responded to a survey from American Express, telling them that I wished their customer service was as good as USAA. I love you online bank.
posted by lizjohn at 10:13 PM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm very happynwith Watermark credit union in Seattle. Well, in the Seattle area. I think they only have four branches, but anyone can join. My only complaint is that sometimes they have trouble synching with Mint.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 10:25 PM on September 29, 2011


About merchants and credit card processing fees: at the small retail shop where I work, we vastly prefer customers to run their credit cards as debit whenever possible. With debit, the credit card processor charges a flat fee per transaction; with credit, they charge a flat fee per transaction AND a percentage of the total transaction $ amount.

Retailers grit their teeth & accept this because the fees they pay are less than the customer money they'd lose by not taking credit cards. But that is why many small stores have signs (probably in violation of their contracts) saying "$5/$10 minimum for credit card sales," because after flat fee + percentage fee + wholesale cost of the goods, sales under $10 make you very little money.

I'm not sure how Saturday's change will affect small businesses, but I predict drastic changes offered to us the next time our credit card merchant services contract is up for renewal.

(This is all in my retail experience; your credit card merchant services processing mileage may vary.)
posted by nicebookrack at 10:27 PM on September 29, 2011


So not all big banks suck.

I used to bank at the Chase bank that is literally one quarter mile away from my house, downhill. They sucked so bad and screwed us in so many picayune ways so often that we finally closed our account (which took six months, due to incompetency and a sheer refusal to disclose information on chase's account) and opened an account with SalalCU, formerly known as the Group Health Credit Union, even though the closest branch is about ten miles away.

I love them. The service is second to none. I can deposit checks through any network ATM, and they're apparently working on a phone app that will let me deposit checks from my phone. (BECU already has one.) They aren't evil! Our savings account earns 2.5% interest! They don't randomly hold my deposits for days or weeks at a time, while sending through check after check after check until my account is drained! SO MUCH HATE FOR CHASE.
posted by KathrynT at 10:28 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


we vastly prefer customers to run their credit cards as debit whenever possible

Yep, store near me has signs up at every register requesting customers choose debit over credit. I am thinking if a significant number of people stop using debit cards merchants will start putting pressure on banks. Dunno what the final outcome will be, maybe a move back to cash, who knows.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:40 PM on September 29, 2011


Shamless self promotion: Here is MY AskMe about ditching Wells Fargo seeing they are going to start charging $3/month for debit cards in certain states.

I now have a Charles Schwab account, both a brokerage and checking. Interest is 0.20% which isn't great, but if you are looking for an online bank they ROCK! After opening they had their US-based customer support call me. Free checks came in the mail (a whole box, i.e. my next 4 years worth of checks). Debit card with no fees. ATM fees are refunded monthly, even on a shady strip club ATM. Instant access to a trading account w/$9 trades, no-fee Schwab ETFs, thousands of no-fee mutual funds. Their app for Android and iOS is killer: to deposit a check take a picture of both sides. Yeah, it's awesome. It is all unbelievably flexible and I wouldn't trade them at this point unless they start the fee gouging.

My Wells card is now going into my safe. They can go sit on a spiky dildo for all I care.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:55 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yep, store near me has signs up at every register requesting customers choose debit over credit.

Yep indeed. That's also why many of the perks/points/warranties/etc. credit card companies offer to consumers are ones you'll only get if you run the card as a credit transaction. Otherwise there would be no difference to the consumers in cost (until now!), so they wouldn't care and the merchant would always run it as the cheaper debit. The perks encourage consumers to push merchants to use credit transactions; the merchants don't refuse because they want the sale; the credit card companies reap the bonus credit transaction fees; the consumers get (some of) the fees back as consumer perks. Rinse and repeat!
posted by nicebookrack at 10:58 PM on September 29, 2011


I love USAA so much I would marry them all if it would not be even more bigamous than the Great Enspousening.

I don't even care that I live so far away from any branch, because now you can bop into the UPS store and they put your check in your checking account via some kind of mystic process with your debit card. It's magical and almost makes me wish I got a check more than once a year on my birthday, for the neat factor of it.
posted by winna at 10:59 PM on September 29, 2011


Yeah, I am with Wells Fargo because I don't have any fees, and this wouldn't affect me since I always use credit cards instead of debit cards (more consumer protections with a credit card, if you pay it off every month its no different).

Of course, not everyone can get no-fee accounts at the big banks, and then credit unions are a great choice. But if you can, you don't pay any extra and you get generally better online access and a large selection of ATMs with no fees.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:29 PM on September 29, 2011


You have your money in South Carolina Credit Union but use ATMS in California. Okay, what about when you want to go into a branch for a cashier's check or something.

If your CU participates in the CU Service Center Network, you can go to any other CU that's in that network and basically use them as if they're your own.
posted by zsazsa at 11:31 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


btw, don't tell me the Obama administration didn't anticipate this and couldn't have stopped this kind of egregious abuse when they submitted financial institution reforms. Same old bullshit from this lame administration.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:34 PM on September 29, 2011


I am woefully still with BOA, but need a bank with branches all across the country because of my particulars. Did the credit union thing for a good while, and they ostensibly had the ability to accept hard deposits through the Credit Union Service Center network, but after having my deposits hung up multiple times because of 'computer difficulties', I had to switch to a more reliable alternative.

It feels dirty using BOA, and this new fee pisses me off - but I don't know that I have a choice.
posted by pianoboy at 11:40 PM on September 29, 2011


Credit union.Credit union.Credit union.

I used to believe this, too, but in my parents' bankruptcy the credit union was the least helpful and the most aggressive at recapture and clawback. Very, very bitter.
posted by dhartung at 12:04 AM on September 30, 2011


Eat the rich. Fuck their pets. Then eat the pets. Adopt their pets.

I don't want to eat any politicians, thanks. And I certainly don't want to adopt any. They've leeched off me for long enough.

Can't we just render them down to glue?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:12 AM on September 30, 2011


I <3 USAA. I can deposit my checks to them with my phone, and they're always nice on the phone regardless of the service they're providing. Tru luv 4evah. As soon as we're through closing on teh new house, we're switching the joint accounts over too.
posted by susanbeeswax at 12:19 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I closed my Bank of America account 6 years ago because I was drowning in fees even back then.

The credit union I used to be in had an online interface from 1993 for some reason.

I also had to close my Chase acct because of the fees. Now I'm with PNC and don't have any fees. They also refund ATM fees and have a functional online interface and basically no criteria to join. Perfect bank while it lasts.
posted by bleep at 12:23 AM on September 30, 2011


Are credit unions safe? Like all those banks in Iceland.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:58 AM on September 30, 2011


So what's new? HSBC Bank Canada charges me $12/month to use debit.

I would be with a credit union, but none of the three I was recommended by an investment advisor would return my calls or take my money.
posted by scruss at 1:04 AM on September 30, 2011


I've been looking at USAA, but I'm not sure if it's the right thing for me. It certainly looks attractive, though.

Do it. I switched to USAA Federal Savings Bank from BofA three years ago, never looked back and have been quite happy ever since. Their service is excellent, their website is getting better (although they have a slightly annoying tendency to list debit purchases by address rather than merchant name), and I can deposit checks with my phone. No annoying fees, they refund ATM surcharges up to $12 a month and even kick back a little each month in debit card rewards.

I've got my insurance and even my mortgage through them. Thanks, Dad, for those 2 years of being a Navy dentist that got us into USAA.
posted by chuq at 2:37 AM on September 30, 2011


I went with the University Federal Credit Union in Austin a few years ago and never looked back. Didn't have to be a student or affiliated with the U. Didn't even have to live in Austin.

One of the GREAT, and often overlooked things about Credit Unions is the option of Shared Branching. I just moved to DC, but I can use almost ANY of the Credit Unions around here for depositing, check cashing, etc as if they were my own CU.

And, for an organization which caters primarily to starving college students, UFCU (in my experience) seemed to treat each and every customer like they were million-dollar-plus clients.

One of the few really great consumer experiences I've had in recent years.
posted by Thistledown at 3:59 AM on September 30, 2011


The difference between banks and credit unions (SLYT).
posted by headnsouth at 4:09 AM on September 30, 2011


For those of you who are wondering how to find a credit union:

The NCUA is the national association of credit unions -- they can help you find one in your area. They don't show the eligibility requirements, but for the most part they'll point you to the CU's website which will tell you what you need to know about signing up.

I found DepositAccounts.com's health rating feature valuable when comparing my local credit unions. After I found good candidates in my town, I put them into DepositAccount and found out their financial stability, which pointed me to a good one. There are a few sites that figure financial health of banks and credit unions; I recall there being some discrepancy between sites, so of course do your homework like you would for any financial decision.
posted by AzraelBrown at 4:16 AM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, my home mortgage was sold to BofA... what's the chance they'll go belly up and let me live here for free?
posted by GreyFoxVT at 4:47 AM on September 30, 2011


Everyone is eligible for a credit union. Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner said it best (welcome!), but I just want to reiterate to make this absolutely clear.

Use a bank if that's the best deal for you, but you absolutely can use a credit union. USAA and Alliant are essentially open to the public. You can join Alliant by contributing $5 to a charity. Explore local options, shop around, but if you're using a big national bank, you're probably being fleeced.
posted by heathkit at 4:53 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


btw, don't tell me the Obama administration didn't anticipate this and couldn't have stopped this kind of egregious abuse when they submitted financial institution reforms. Same old bullshit from this lame administration.

So, the government should have also barred banks from charging fees to their customers? How would that even work? Surely they'd just find another way to pass these fees along. (Why you blame the Obama administration for this is beyond me -- this law was passed by both houses of Congress, too, you know.)

Frankly, this looks like a fantastic outcome to me. Get these fees out in the open, let people see the true cost of doing business with these big banks. Perhaps now that account holders can see and feel this egregious abuse directly, they'll have an incentive to find a less abusive bank. The account holders are the ones who can do something about this; the merchants who previously ate all of these fees had few options besides not accepting cards at all.

One thing that's bothered me about this whole situation is that I don't understand why these transaction fees are so high, and why they seem to be continually increasing. The technology involved should cost a fraction of what it did ten or twenty years ago; the bigger banks should have some economy of scale when it comes to operating datacenters, ATM networks, etc. I can't believe these fees are only to cover the costs of the transactions; my suspicion is that they're primarily there to generate profit, new boats for executives, etc.
posted by sriracha at 5:00 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's be clear that these fees are intended to keep BoA profits at a pre-specified level. This has nothing to do with BoA becoming unprofitable. This has everything to do with BoA insisting on a steady, arbitrary 25% (or whatever) profit margin no matter what, instead of making-due with a mere 24% margin.

This is one of those moments when you want to shove that "Do more with less" mantra the financial industry keeps pushing at consumers, right up their collective asses. Goose/gander, boys.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:02 AM on September 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


You know, USAA provides a rather convincing argument to enlist in the army....

Anyone can sign up for a USAA checking account The military service requirement only applies to insurance and some other products. You could sign up for an account with USAA online and have a free checking account with them today.

Here are the eligibility requirements. Everyone reading this is at least an "Other Individual" - that includes checking and savings accounts. You can't take out loans with them or use their insurance, but you can use them for checking (ATM fee reimbursement!), savings, or investment accounts.
posted by heathkit at 5:04 AM on September 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, not to beat a dead horse, but I love my community bank. I have access to more ATMs than someone who banks with a Mega Bank, because they refund my ATM charges anywhere. They even pay me a small percentage on my checking balance (though I do miss the days when that interest was 4%). Also, every single time I visit the branch, it isn't bustling with people and I'm seen immediately.
posted by litnerd at 5:42 AM on September 30, 2011


YES. Finally just opened the USAA account. Took about 3 minutes. Free checks. FREEDOM! The transferring of auto-payments, etc., will be a minor pain, but so worth it.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass, BoA!
posted by theredpen at 5:56 AM on September 30, 2011


Thanks for clarifying that, heathkit! I was starting to get super-jealous of all these lucky USAA people. I've now signed up, and it was a breath of fresh air to see an American financial organisation that didn't bat an eye at my international address.
posted by ukdanae at 6:52 AM on September 30, 2011


If your CU participates in the CU Service Center Network, you can go to any other CU that's in that network and basically use them as if they're your own.

Just to provide further verification, I have personally done this, getting a cashier's check from a nearby credit union on a day when I was not going to be anywhere near any branches of my own credit union.

Are credit unions safe?

Credit union accounts are insured by the NCUA the same way (and to the same amount, $250000 per person per institution) as bank accounts are insured by the FDIC.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:22 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are all like, "Why would anyone use Bank of America? Why not use a credit union?"

For myself, it's the convenience of the ATMs. And when I say "convenience" I mean "an ATM situated less than 20 miles away." No joke. And I get a lot of payments by check, so "convenient ATMs" is not just a frivolous thrill.


Umm, my credit union (NWFCU in VA) has MORE ATMs than just about any other bank... because through them, all 7-11 ATMs (and many others that use the same provider) are in-network with no fees. At all. Many cred unions recognize that with only 2-3 branches, public ATM access is way more important, and will eat the fees as a convenience to you.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:03 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


USAA is an interesting legal animal.

On the back end, they're a whole bunch of companies; USAA Federal Savings Bank -- this is the part that has deposit accounts that anyone can sign up for -- while it has some CU-like features, isn't a CU, it's a regular FSB and regulated the same as other banks, including having FDIC insurance. But it is wholly owned by the "real" USAA, the "United Services Automobile Association", which is a Texas "inter-insurance exchange".*

It's actually the insurance part that is the most credit-uniony, and has membership requirements. I've been told that the Texas part of the operation (the exchange) is in some ways similar to Lloyds of London; theoretically, each member is like a Lloyds "name", and has unlimited liability for other members' policies (although Wikipedia clarifies that, so long as certain reserve requirements are met, members' liability is limited to premium paid). At least in the time I've been a member, I've actually gotten a profit-sharing payment from the insurance business every year.

There are a bunch of other subsidiaries that do things like credit cards and investments, but they're less interesting.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that they very much want to get people into the banking side of things, since it is a profit center (AFAICT) that feeds the insurance business, and profits from that get redistributed to members.

* I assume, but have never actually checked, that there are ~50 actual "insurance companies" writing policies for each state, and these Companies are members of the Texas USAA exchange. So there's sort of an additional layer of abstraction here, but it's normally transparent to the end-user except when you move between states and end up having a new bunch of policy documents sent to you.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:22 AM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why don't more Americans join credit unions? This baffles me.

Because, based on my experience of living in DC, NYC and LA, this:

Corporate Big Bank: Join NOW! 5 minutes later you have an account.
Credit Union: Sorry! You are not eligible.

Not to mention:

Corporate Big Bank: Branch a block from where you live!
Credit Union: Branch way the hell out of your way!

Don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of big banks, but I've tried to join a credit union several times and I am never eligible...not to mention the branches are always somewhere far in relation to my living situation. My solution has been to go totally with online banks. INGDirect and Charles Schwab's High Yield checking accounts are AWESOME. I just hope they don't follow suit with fees...
posted by jnnla at 8:58 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Credit union accounts are insured by the NCUA the same way (and to the same amount, $250000 per person per institution) as bank accounts are insured by the FDIC.

I believe all federal credit union are insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, although one should be warned that some state credit unions are not. Look for the NCUA insurance sign.
posted by grouse at 9:02 AM on September 30, 2011


Branch a block from where you live!

That's important the one or two times a year when I need to go into a bank branch to deposit cash (less important now that some banks have cash-counting ATMs). But it's nearly always irrelevant these days whether your bank is a block away or in San Antonio.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:11 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing I find so weird about this thread is the idea that it might be hard to get into a credit union. I had no idea!

I've been with my credit union for nearly 20 years; I signed up with them when I was in college because they had a location between my house and the school and it was convenient (and they offered free checking). As far as I can recall, there wasn't any requirement or anything, I just walked in and got an account, and I've been happy with them ever since.

I sincerely hope that those of you in areas where it is more difficult find a way in, as evidenced by this thread, there really is a lot to recommend them, and I can't praise mine highly enough.
posted by quin at 9:14 AM on September 30, 2011


In the Seattle area, there are at least 3 different credit unions that pretty much anyone who lives or works in the metro area can join, and they all seem to be part of a shared ATM system where I can make deposits and withdrawals from any member ATM. I finally made the switch and found it interesting how, when I went into Chase to finally close out my account of 15+ years, they didn't bat an eye or make any attempt to talk me out of it or ask me why I was leaving.
posted by nomisxid at 9:19 AM on September 30, 2011


The CU membership requirements are pretty loose in WI much to the chagrin of banks who have been pressing the state to tighten eligibility rules. Many are open to the general public or people who live in a certain geographic area (mine covers and area that has about a third of the state's population). Banks consider non-profit CUs open to the public to be "unfair competition". Whatever Mr. Commercial Banker, the market has spoken.
posted by MikeMc at 9:21 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a CU car loan (used to consolidate some credit card debt, they refinanced my car away from the dealer and gave me the difference between the payoff and the value of the car to pay off/down cards). I do the rest of my banking with Wells Fargo - it works well because my mom and dad have all of their banking/cars/mortgage through there as well, so we can all be connected. They don't pay any fees because of the sheer quantities of accounts.
I don't pay fees because I have a 'hidden' option for accounts called, I believe, Member Advantage. It's hard to get, because you have to have an employer who's a member, or have worked for Wells Fargo (what I did, for 6 weeks several years ago), but it means basically no fees aside from some of the pay-per-use things like stop payments, and I get interest on my checking. It's not much interest, but I do get it.
If you have to bank national with one of the big 4, WF under this kind of arrangement, or US Bank, seem to be the best.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 9:49 AM on September 30, 2011


I've been banking with Ally for a while now and have been quite happy with them.
They're an online-only bank, so if I move my account doesn't have to change. They refund me other banks' ATM fees at the end of the month, checking is free, their fees are very reasonable (overdraft etc, not that I've been charged any), and they just launched image-based check deposits. No more mailing in checks, yay!
posted by closetphilosopher at 10:23 AM on September 30, 2011


In Russia, banks pay you to play with your money. Heh, heh.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:26 AM on September 30, 2011


Something killed the Bank Of America website. I find this funny.

Listen, if you're going to charge fees for service you had best be able to offer those services.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:34 AM on September 30, 2011


What makes this particularly offensive, and I apologize if this has already been mentioned but I simply can't read this whole thing, is that the $12 monthly maintenance fee is waived IF you make at least one debit card purchase per month. And now ... I'm being charged $5 to make that purchase? Buh bye, BofA.
posted by iguanapolitico at 10:54 AM on September 30, 2011


Lord_Pall: "USAA"

USAA - We Encourage Nude Banking But only at home because, come on, nobody wants to see you naked at some other guys ATM. Although now that we think about it, who would assume you're with USAA? So we're not exactly telling you not to go to someone else's ATM naked.
posted by theichibun at 10:56 AM on September 30, 2011


Perhaps this has been mentioned before on the blue, but Citigroup is planning to start charging a $10 monthly fee if your account balance is under $1,500, which seems pretty counterproductive.

I love my small town bank. No ATM fees, great interest on my checking account, no other fees. And when I call them if there's a problem, I can just ask for the person I need to talk to by name with no press 1 for an assfucking menu.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:00 AM on September 30, 2011


Only read about halfway down, but wanted to point out to ErikaB to check whether your new credit union does "Shared Branching" - in most cases that means you can cash checks and whatnot at another credit union in the same network. The one I know about is "CU Service Centers." There are similar ATM networks; look on the back of your card to see if the ATM has any of the same logos.

I work at a credit union as a web developer. Would be happy to take a stab at answering credit union related questions, but I'm not a finance person and (obvs) am not speaking for my employer here!
posted by epersonae at 11:11 AM on September 30, 2011


Isn't this only logical? If a depression is coming, and the poor won't have any money anymore, then obviously you should rush to collect as much of their remaining money as possible before someone else does.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:51 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I understand people love the convenience, lord knows I do. And I am over a barrel and have no choice but to go along with it.

My local coffeeshop taped a bank statement to the cash register showing just how much he pays monthly for customers' debit card charges. I now pay cash there.

(Note: appealing to the customers like this probably wouldn't work in 99% of businesses.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:51 AM on September 30, 2011


Way back when I had an account with Rainier Bank, as I wanted a locally based bank. Without my having to do a thing it became an account with Security Pacific, and then with BankAmerica, and then with Bank of America.

One reason I join in the USAA spousening is that I have faith they're going to remain USAA; I have an account I opened with them in the 1980s and it's still puttering along just fine. Even my mortgage, which I got with them years ago, has never been sold.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:02 PM on September 30, 2011


Thanks, everyone! Credit Union #5 (Banner Bank) approved me this morning. The next month will be a considerable hassle as I wait for the Banner account to get fully up and running, move over all my auto-pay accounts, link it up to my Paypal and Google Checkout accounts, etc.

And it's not a "Hallelujah I'm free" situation, since I'll have to drive half an hour each way to get to either of the two nearest ATMs. There doesn't seem to be a network where I can deposit checks in a non-Banner ATM. But maybe their site doesn't make that clear. I don't know. It's really confusing, and I've spent a lot more time futzing around with banks this week than I really had planned.

Even so, I consider myself lucky.

For one thing, I happened to have $50 that I could use to open the new account. That isn't the case for many people, and it isn't always the case for me.

I'm also lucky in that I have a car, and money for gas. Frankly it's a privilege just to be able to drive 20 miles to the nearest branch ATM, even if it IS an enormous hassle.

For many people, it's not going to come down to "Bank of America or a credit union." It's going to come down to "Bank of America or no bank." Life without a bank is unpleasant and expensive, and it's just one more punishment for being poor in America.

Thanks, Bank of America, for making a bad situation worse for millions of struggling Americans!
posted by ErikaB at 12:04 PM on September 30, 2011


Something killed the Bank Of America website. I find this funny.

I'll bite. Who's knocking out BoA's website? Newsfeeds haven't reported an Anonymous attack... yet.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:17 PM on September 30, 2011


Day After Big Debit Fee Hike, BofA Homepage Fails
posted by homunculus at 12:34 PM on September 30, 2011


Credit Union #5 (Banner Bank) approved me this morning.

Not that it matters, because they are (I am told by friends who bank with them) a great bank, but as far as I know Banner Bank is not a credit union. They are small, independently owned, local to Washington State, and I've never heard any horror stories about them, so you should get most of the same advantages that you would with a credit union or other local banks, like good service and cheap loans.
posted by Forktine at 12:43 PM on September 30, 2011


On the CU topic, here's the NCUA's Credit Union Finder. If you put in a State, it'll show you all the credit unions and then you can select other criteria to refine the search in real time. It's pretty interesting to see how many there are, although some in my area are really hyper-specific.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:53 PM on September 30, 2011


Here's another aspect that's complete bullshit. If you're collecting unemployment or disability benefits in California - guess what?

You're a BofA debit card customer, like it or not. I left BofA years ago because of their shitty fees and service. Ever since EDD announced this new 'benefit' I've been waiting to see exactly how they were going to screw people over with it and now we know.

I have my balance transferred automatically to INGDirect, so it'll be interesting to see if I get dinged $5 monthly for that privilege. And by interesting, I totally mean infuriating.
posted by Space Kitty at 1:08 PM on September 30, 2011


So, before I go and cancel my Bank of America credit card as a way to tell them to fuck off, is there a master card / visa credit card out there with a bank that *doesn't* suck?
posted by rmd1023 at 1:26 PM on September 30, 2011


I just switched my direct deposit over from BofA to my shiny new city employee FCU checking account. I'm interested to see what sort of fees the BofA account gets shellacked with now that there's nothing automatically going in there. I'm stoked about the 7-Eleven thing, but there's an ATM in the lobby of my place of employment, so. Also stoked about their eagerness to help me get a new (or new used) car.
posted by carsonb at 1:31 PM on September 30, 2011


I have my balance transferred automatically to INGDirect, so it'll be interesting to see if I get dinged $5 monthly for that privilege. And by interesting, I totally mean infuriating.

Just to clarify the new fee: it applies only to people who use their debit card to make purchases. It won't apply to people who are using the card only to withdraw cash from ATMs, and won't apply if you're doing an automatic balance transfer. Use it once to buy a pack of gum someplace, however, and *bing* $5 out of your wallet and into BofA's.
posted by hippybear at 1:39 PM on September 30, 2011


BofA Homepage Fails

Or was it pushed...
posted by MikeMc at 2:17 PM on September 30, 2011


BofA Homepage Fails

Or was it pushed...


Or their webmaster is charging them $5 per unique IP address.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:24 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


And it's not a "Hallelujah I'm free" situation, since I'll have to drive half an hour each way to get to either of the two nearest ATMs.

that's going to cost you more than 5 bucks a month in gas, isn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:44 PM on September 30, 2011


I'm with those who don't care for credit unions. When I was with a credit union, there was a lot of annoying paperwork that had to be in person or by mail or fax, which any bank would do online. Given that the locations were 20-30 minutes drive away from my house, this made banking a huge hassle. Also, to get money, you had to consult some list of ATMs somewhere and find the right ATM, so that you didn't get charged a fee.

Contrast that with online banks, which is what I use (Schwab and ING Direct.) I can do basically everything online, and they refund ATM fees, so I can use any ATM in the city. I don't get the best interest rates, but they're still a couple orders of magnitude more than any brick and mortar bank would offer, and if I wanted to chase interest rates, I could do that (my roommate does.)

I use Chase for my credit card though, because I get up 5% cash back on certain purchases, and there's no fee.
posted by !Jim at 11:46 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Splunge: "Eat the rich. Fuck their pets. Then eat the pets."

Damn. that many favorites for a stupid throw away comment like that? You folks disappoint me.

What if I then added and wipe your dick on the curtains? Would this comment then hit 1000 favorites? I dare you.
posted by Splunge at 2:08 AM on October 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


When I was with a credit union, there was a lot of annoying paperwork that had to be in person or by mail or fax, which any bank would do online. Given that the locations were 20-30 minutes drive away from my house, this made banking a huge hassle. Also, to get money, you had to consult some list of ATMs somewhere and find the right ATM, so that you didn't get charged a fee.

Contrast that with online banks, which is what I use (Schwab and ING Direct.) I can do basically everything online, and they refund ATM fees, so I can use any ATM in the city.


This is why you have to look at the details and clarify your needs, and it's not as simple as "credit unions good, regular banks bad". My credit union does all the good stuff you describe (refunds ATM fees, total online access, no need to visit in person except for loan signings, etc) without the bad, but clearly not all are as good, and they certainly aren't a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone.

There was an article in the NYTimes today questioning "Why is anyone still doing business with banks like these?" and giving resources for people looking to switch to better banks. Bringing fees out into the open is a good move, I think, and helps clarify what you are getting and what is worth paying for.
posted by Forktine at 7:12 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seattle PI: Debit card fees irk customers, prompt flight to credit unions
He said BECU's membership has grown as customers ditch banks and their fees. The institution saw an 18 percent rise in new memberships in the last 12 months. In August, it set a record with 8,700 new monthly members.

On Friday, BECU was on track to break that record, with an expected 9,000 new members for September. It has a total of 720,000 members.
posted by grouse at 10:02 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


As Movement Grows, Thousands In Boston Protest Against Bank Of America’s Greed
posted by homunculus at 3:50 PM on October 1, 2011


When I was with a credit union, there was a lot of annoying paperwork that had to be in person or by mail or fax, which any bank would do online. Given that the locations were 20-30 minutes drive away from my house, this made banking a huge hassle. Also, to get money, you had to consult some list of ATMs somewhere and find the right ATM, so that you didn't get charged a fee.

Contrast that with online banks, which is what I use (Schwab and ING Direct.) I can do basically everything online, and they refund ATM fees, so I can use any ATM in the city.
This is why you have to look at the details and clarify your needs, and it's not as simple as "credit unions good, regular banks bad". My credit union does all the good stuff you describe (refunds ATM fees, total online access, no need to visit in person except for loan signings, etc) without the bad, but clearly not all are as good, and they certainly aren't a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone.


Quite true. My credit union when I initially joined had a very minimal online and phone-based presence, but rapidly expanded those over time to be roughly the equal of a mid-sized bank. Every credit union is different. Some are pretty small, and don't have the resources of a general bank. Most areas have several credit unions to choose from.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:49 PM on October 1, 2011


I'm with those who don't care for credit unions. When I was with a credit union, there was a lot of annoying paperwork that had to be in person or by mail or fax, which any bank would do online. Given that the locations were 20-30 minutes drive away from my house, this made banking a huge hassle. Also, to get money, you had to consult some list of ATMs somewhere and find the right ATM, so that you didn't get charged a fee.

This is the opposite of my experience. Either things have changed, or you just got a bad apple. I've belonged to four credit unions over the years. All but one of them didn't have a branch in my hometown. I signed up for and managed my accounts online. Never had to do anything in person, though sometimes you'll need to mail for fax something, but that's unavoidable in finance.

I had NavyFCU as my first account thanks to my dad. I switched from them to USAA (which anyone can get a checking account with). I use Alliant CU for my savings (better interest rate) and I joined BECU in Seattle, though I ended up closing cause I just don't need it and USAA.

In my entire adult life, I have never "gone to the bank". The whole idea is just really odd to me. I joined BECU because they have a branch in the grocery store near my house, but I never actually went there. I thought I'd need to be able to go to a branch of my bank in person, but I opened and closed my account online. Never even went there.

I take that back - I did have a bank account once. They ended up signing me up for some sort of credit monitoring service for $7 a month. I never used the account, so I didn't pay attention to it. They kept charging for their product, used up the money that was there, then went into overdraft. They kept billing and racked up quite a few overdraft charges before I shut it down. Yes, I could have avoided it if I had read the fine print about the service and kept a close eye on the account, but I'd rather just bank with institutions that aren't trying to get me.

Good banks make money by loaning out your money. Banks that make money off fees are just parasites, exploiting an asymmetry in the market. Essentially, your savings account is a loan to the bank. I'll be dammed if I'm going to let the company I'm lending my money to milk me for fees.
posted by heathkit at 1:12 PM on October 2, 2011


Bank of America Accuses NYT Reporter of ‘Soliciting Customers’
posted by homunculus at 5:23 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, these fees might generate some street art that informs other customers. Anyone spotted some?
posted by jeffburdges at 8:10 PM on October 2, 2011


Attorneys General Settlement: The Next Big Bank Bailout?
posted by homunculus at 2:13 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ignoring Massive Industry Fraud, Bank Of America CEO Hypes Benefits Of Faster Foreclosures
posted by homunculus at 2:17 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


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