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A $5 Checking Account Fee? Uh-Uh

by Shawanda Greene

Recently, Wells Fargo notified me of changes to my account. I’d have to pay a $5 monthly fee on my checking account if the balance dipped below $300.

I think I would’ve avoided the fee if I signed up for an automatic savings or direct deposit plan. Honestly, I can’t remember exactly. It’s not important. What is important, however, is that I refuse to pay for checking. I believe checking accounts ought to be  free. Those are just my beliefs.

I’ve been through this before. Chase sent a similar notice over a year ago to say they’d charge me a $12 fee for one reason or another. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the particulars of the letter. The details are irrelevant. What is relevant, however, is that I responded to Chase in the same way I responded to Wells Fargo—by closing my account.

The cancellation process was quite simple:

  1. Call Wells Fargo.
  2. Give representative my account number.
  3. When asked, tell the rep why I’m closing my account. Answer: I don’t need no stinkin’ checking account that ain’t free.
  4. Confirm mailing address so that I can receive a check for the measly $340 remaining in my account.

That’s it.

Now, I know some people think it’s unreasonable to expect free checking. After all, banks are for-profit entities.

I don’t have a problem with banks making money. Likewise, I don’t have a problem with me saving money.

Between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm every weekday, that $5 I’ll eventually pay to Wells Fargo can buy me two empanadas from one of my favorite restaurants.

For now, Charles Schwab and ING Direct will fulfill my day-to-day banking needs. Since they don’t nickel and dime their customers, I don’t have any complaints with either company.

I urge you to pay attention to changes that happen on your accounts. When you receive a notice from your bank regarding updates to terms and conditions, read it. There’s no telling what ridiculous fees lurk in the fine print.

If you don’t like the changes, see if you can negotiate a new agreement that you’re comfortable with OR fire your bank.

Feel free to gripe about exorbitant fees on Facebook, Twitter, and your blog. Sign a petition on Change.org, if you will. But remember, the best thing you can do to influence change is to speak with your wallet by taking your business elsewhere.

When was the last time you ended a banking relationship? Why?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Alyssa June 29, 2012 at 10:25 AM

I kicked Bank of America to the curb because they wanted to charge me $8.95/month for my checking account unless I had direct deposit OR kept a minimum of $1,500 in my account. My job doesn’t offer direct deposit (small business), and even if I had a comfortable $1,500 to sit around, it certainly wouldn’t be sitting in a non-interest-bearing account!

I went with a local credit union and have never looked back. There were a couple growing pains at the beginning like there are with all banks (holding my paychecks until they established me as a customer, which took about 3 months/6 paychecks IIRC). The account has a $1 monthly fee if you dip below $100. HOWEVER, every time you use your debit card and run it as credit, they give you 5 cents back. So, it’s pretty easy to make up that $1. Plus, I have a CD with them earning 5%. So yeah, screw you, BOA.

Reply

Shawanda Greene July 2, 2012 at 10:30 PM

$1,500?! In a checking account??? That’s absurd.

I need to find out where you bank. A 5% rate on a CD is phenomenal.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Check Your Credit Score Online for Free: Credit Karma ReviewMy Profile

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Holly@Clubthrifty.com June 29, 2012 at 10:27 AM

I totally agree. At any given time, my bank is holding hundreds to thousands of dollars in my checking account. There is no way in hell that I’m paying a monthly fee to access my money.
Holly@Clubthrifty.com recently posted..Lessons About Money: What I Learned From My ParentsMy Profile

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Shawanda Greene July 2, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Since I use my credit card for most purchases, I’ll often let my balance dip below $300 without fear of overdrawing my account. Even if my checking account only had $50 in it, I’d still be staunchly opposed to paying a fee.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Check Your Credit Score Online for Free: Credit Karma ReviewMy Profile

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LittleFrugalista June 29, 2012 at 3:09 PM

I’m ashamed to say I still pay banking fees! Usually it lingers around $4/month but once I got slapped with $9! I was furious but went about my daily life. I really need to be less lazy and open a no-fee account. Why pay fees when I don’t have to?
LittleFrugalista recently posted..Finding balanceMy Profile

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Shawanda Greene July 2, 2012 at 10:34 PM

You gotta get out of there, LittleFrugalista. You’re under appreciated.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Check Your Credit Score Online for Free: Credit Karma ReviewMy Profile

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Call Me What You Want Even Cheap June 29, 2012 at 5:51 PM

I am all for free banking. I haven’t paid a monthly bank fee since I was a teenager. With several banks offering free banking, it only makes sense for me to bank for free.

Reply

Shawanda Greene July 2, 2012 at 10:35 PM

You telling me. I wouldn’t pay one nickel for a commodity service I can get for free.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Check Your Credit Score Online for Free: Credit Karma ReviewMy Profile

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femmefrugality June 29, 2012 at 6:35 PM

“Free” checking is not really free. It was started so that banks could raise overage fees and the like. As long as you’re good at not overdrawing you’re fine, but if you’re not…. Unfortunately now the accounts that charge a monthly/maintenance fee also charge these crazy overage fees. So why wouldn’t you go free? Seriously…who ALWAYS has over $300 in their checking account? (It can’t just be me….) Good for you for dropping them.

The last time I dropped a bank was after I moved. Nothing exciting. :p
femmefrugality recently posted..Guest Post on Canadian Budget BinderMy Profile

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Shawanda Greene July 2, 2012 at 10:38 PM

Some of these banks think they’re so smart. Well, they can go straight to hell. I’m not paying their ludicrous fees.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Check Your Credit Score Online for Free: Credit Karma ReviewMy Profile

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Lance@MoneyLife&More June 30, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Good for you. My girlfriend quit banking with Wells Fargo for similar reasons.
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Shawanda Greene July 2, 2012 at 10:40 PM

It was for the best. Now I only have to monitor cash in my Charles Schwab, ING Direct, PayPal (I forgot about them) and LeaderBank (just remembered them too) accounts.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Check Your Credit Score Online for Free: Credit Karma ReviewMy Profile

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saturn ion July 21, 2015 at 10:25 AM

There’s definately a lot to know about this topic.

I like all the points you made.
saturn ion recently posted..saturn ionMy Profile

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