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List: Posted: 10/14/11
Banks like to spend a lot on advertising that says that they're all about serving their customers, but most people know this is nonsense. As if customers needed more proof, banks are about to get 'creative' again where fees come into play.
Some of the largest banks in the nation — including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America — are both about to launch new programs designed to charge you more for the same services you've been getting for a very long time. Some of these fees will be avoidable and some won't. Here's a summary.
New Checking Fees
You can pretty much kiss free checking goodbye. Bank of America has already gotten rid of it in three states and it's likely that the rest of the banks will follow suit, if this works out for BoA. Consider moving to a bank that offers free checking if yours takes it away, and make sure you tell them exactly why when you did.
Watch Out for ATM Fees
Banks are considering raising the fees they charge on ATM transactions for non-bank customers. Some are also considering putting a limit on how much can be withdrawn via debit card by their customers. Stay with ATM machines that charge lower fees or dump your bank if they're going to put limits on how or when you can withdraw your own money. Again, make sure you tell them why you're leaving.
Talk to the Manager
You may, in some cases, be able to talk a manager out of assessing new fees to your account. You'll have to threaten to leave and you'll have to mean it. This will probably only work if you have a pretty substantial amount of money in the bank, though. If you have $200 in a free checking account, don't expect much.
If you can stomach it, consider adding more business to the bank in exchange for lower fees. If you have a bigger account or do more business with them, they may reduce the fees they charge you.
Where fees are concerned, the bigger banks are often the targets of their customers’ ire. Consider going with a local bank or with a credit union where you may be treated a bit better. This is another case where you should take the time to let the bank you're leaving know why you're leaving and where you're going.
Use Bill Pay Services
Some banks offer bill pay services. If you sign up for them, they will sometimes reduce your fees on other products, simply because you're using more of their services.
The most important thing with avoiding these fees is understanding that you do have a choice in where you bank. There are always other banks to go to and most of the banks that are imposing new charges on their customers are hoping that those customers simply won't notice what's going on and will continue banking with them, unaware.
The largest banks may have the most advertising and the most noticeable buildings in town, but be sure that you're paying attention to smaller banks that may treat their customers much better.
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