No Disrespect is trying to will herself to write this blog. I have a topic in mind… but no inspiration. Also, I’m starting to write this post at 10:49 PM on Tuesday… Usually I’m too busy on Wednesdays to give full attention to writing a article in the morning. But it’s too damn late. Let’s see what happens. I’m putting money down on me falling asleep at the computer. (Update: I’m done. And it’s only 1:30 in the morning. Yikes! So much for tomorrow. *Sigh*)
In other news, I am seriously considering participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. For the uninitiated (and/or uninterested), I basically have thirty days (Nov 1-30) to write a novel… of at least 50,000 words. I have an idea for a book that I’ve been kicking around for a couple of years. But with this blog and other commitments, I’m not sure I can swing it. Let’s see what happens. I’ll start sketching out chapters tomorrow-ish.
But let us trudge on… back to the show.
Well, the big news of the day… [well, besides Kim Kardashian’s pending divorce (I vow to never mention her name in my blog again. Sorry to all)], is that Bank of America FINALLY came to their senses and disavowed their stupid, idiotic, moronic (shall I go on?) debit fees policy. To refresh your collective memories, thanks to the Dodd-Frank Financial Overhaul law passed last year, major banks have been quietly adding charges in an attempt to recoup billions of dollars in revenue that will vanish as a result of new restrictions on credit cards, debit cards and overdraft policies. (For example, most banks have already started charging fees for low balance checking accounts.)
In September, BoA publicly announced that additionally, they were going to start charging their customers for using their own damn debit cards. By assessing a $5 a month fee to use said plastic at merchants and retail establishments, BoA hoped to recoup some of the money lost due to a provision in the law above that halved the amount that banks can charge merchants for accepting debit cards. Bank of America (along with some other banks) wasn’t having any of that. So they passed on the cost to the customers to make their share holders (and the CEOs yearly bonuses) very happy!
Except that the customers wouldn’t have it either. Not forgetting that we bailed their sorry asses out of bankruptcy just a few years ago, we took umbrage to their audacity to charge us for using our own money. Pretty much everyone I know who banked at BoA started to get their money out of Dodge. Some joined credit unions; I, for one, decided to bank at Burke and Hubert, a small, local Virginia bank that still has free checking… not to mention that they reimburse all ATM fees for all non-affiliated banks in the United States. Score! I have not closed my original bank’s checking and savings accounts yet… but I will in time. (See below.)
While I was opening my new account, at least five other people walked in to change banks as well. Charlotte Metro Credit Union, a bank out of Charlotte, NC has seen a 350 percent increase in new account applications online and an 88 percent increase at branches in recent weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if other credit unions, online and local banks are observing similar trends.
Just as a reminder, Bank Transfer Day is on November 5. If you like banking at your local major bank, fine. Stay there. But if you’re tired of what’s over the horizon, fee-wise, here are some steps I encourage you to follow in order to change banks:
1.) First, if your bank account is tied to your home mortgage and/or other loan at the same bank, you will want to inquire if taking your money out of the bank completely will result in a higher interest rate. If that is the case, you will need to decide if closing your account is worth it. One option may be to keep your account open at the original bank just to pay the mortgage/loan… while opening a primary account at another new, shiny bank.
2.) After clearing these this hurdle, start researching new banks. Here’s a few articles discussing the pros and cons of banking at a commercial bank versus a credit union. And if you’re internet-savvy, don’t forget to compare online banks too! Ask around! Your friends are great resources as well.
3.) Get copies of account fee schedules/disclosures from each your favorite banks (most are online; here’s an example). Make sure you choose a bank/account that serves your needs.
4.) Okay, now open an account at the new bank of your choice. For God’s sake, bring all necessary documentation (social security card, driver’s license, etc.) to the bank with you! Keep in mind that initial checks may take 6-10 business days to clear for new account holders (check with your new bank), so keep both accounts open for the meantime.
5.) Once you receive your first bundle of checks and your ATM card in the mail, check that your checks above have cleared, and transfer any online banking transactions from your old account to your new one. (I.e., direct deposits, automatic monthly withdrawals, etc.)
6.) Once you can verify that everything’s kosher and working okay with your new bank, it’s time to walk into your major bank branch for the last time and close your original account. Note: If you have a joint account, both of you losers may have to show up together to close your account. Check with your bank in advance. And be prepared for mega questioning from bank managers as to why they are losing your business. Stand your ground and be honest. Then walk out of your bank with your official check and don’t look back. Congratulations! You are all done!
7.) Keep all documentation from your old bank for at least five years (I suggest longer), for IRS purposes.
Addendum: Over the past few days, pretty much every major bank became scared of losing all of their customers and backed away from debit fees (some even reimbursing those customers who incurred the charges.) So essentially, you can safely use your debit cards again to make purchases without aggravation. I still am happy that I’m in the process of changing banks… who knows what fees they’ll try to levy on the poor consumers next. I voted with my feet. BoA, Wells Fargo and the like have been kicked off my island. It’s paradise again (for now!)