Bank Charges on the Rise Again

The Better Business Bureau is warning that federal regulations limiting charges that can be levied is likely to have banks looking for ways to recoup funds elsewhere.

After announced last month that it would be joining , Chase and in charging a , the Better Business Bureau put out a release warning consumers and business owners to keep a look out for more to come.

According to BBB, recent changes in banking laws capped the “swipe fee” that banks can charge retailers for debit transactions. The average fee was 44 cents per transaction, but the new law caps the fee at 21 cents. With banks estimating they will lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year in debit card transactions fees, they are looking to recoup that money from customers by modifying various checking account fees. According to Loganville resident Kathy Mackay, that is already happening. As a SunTrust Bank customer, Mackay posted on Patch that she been advised to expect more fees on top of the debit card fee, starting next month.

"Suntrust is also starting a new fee structure as of Nov. 10, 2011. Checking accounts will now carry monthly maintenance fees of $7/month (unless you keep a daily minimum balance of a certain amount or have direct deposit) plus a monthly fee for the bankcard use of $5/month,” Mackay said. “For an individual account that does not meet their requirements plus uses the bankcard every month, the account has gone from costing the individual $0 to now costing $12/month or $140 a year. Families with several checking accounts will be charged those fees per account.”

Mackay said with her and her husband each having a checking account, that would cost them $280 a year. It’s changes like this that the BBB is warning about.

“If you don’t understand a notice you receive or see a new fee on your account statement that you weren’t expecting, contact your financial institution and ask for an explanation,” said Fred T. Elsberry, Jr., president & CEO of the BBB Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & Northeast Georgia.

Elsberry said account holders can to ask their bank if there are programs to waive the fee for accounts with a minimum balance. It also pays to shop around; some financial institutions may keep no-fee debit cards.

Mackay said she did speak to her bank, and was told to maybe consider using a SunTrust credit card to use instead of a bankcard to at least reduce that fee. She then tried shopping around.

“I checked with Gwinnett Federal Credit Union about their offerings. There is a one-time membership fee to join. For me, because I'm not a school employee, my cost to join is $40.00 - of that amount $25.00 is kept frozen in the savings account - and is considered a "share" in the credit union,” Mackay said. “Once you are a member you are then able to use their full range of banking products without any fees.”

Mackay said for her, that was the deciding factor.

“Yes, you read that right,” she posted on Patch. “No fees for checking accounts or bank cards. I'm closing my Suntrust accounts and headed to the credit union..."

"B" October 20, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Just reconfirmed with "Usta" at RBC Centura Bank (Hwy. 78-Snellville) - they have NO plans for changing their "no fees" associated with Checking accounts or the use of Debit/Credit cards. They give A+ service - I've been with them for years. Feel free to contact: "Usta" at RBC-Snellville - Tel. No. 404 495-6760. B. Merritt
Sharon Swanepoel October 20, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Thanks for letting us know that. I'm sure RBC Centura appreciate it too. :)
Kathy October 24, 2011 at 07:50 PM
An update: I have opened my account and become a member at Gwinnett Federal Credit Union. It was quick - less than ten minutes. It was easy AND I received a free umbrella for doing so. I opened both a savings and checking account. I'm happy to say both accounts are already up and working, the mobile application is installed and working on my smartphone and I should receive my debit card within a few days. I will be closing my Suntrust account at the end of the month once I make sure all transactions there are complete.
Sharon Swanepoel October 24, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Thanks for keeping us updated Kathy!


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