If you’re really quiet, and listen closely, that sucking sound you’re hearing is your bank ripping you off for some more, and bigger, service charges this month.
I’m looking at the notices from two banks. The others are pretty much in lockstep with each other, so there’s no point singling out these two. If you listened last year, this is now the second increase. It used to be once a year, now they’re changing the fees twice a year. Why? Because we don’t complain, and we don’t take our business elsewhere. So why wouldn’t they, if you think about it.
By the way, the reason they do it in February is because you got the notice for these in December. There’s an internal banking industry newsletter called the Fee Income Report. It had a story that the two times a year banks should give notices for increases are in August and December. Why? Because in the middle of summer, and just before Christmas, we are least likely to take the time to read our bank statements, or the inserts to give us notice.
Here are some of the highlights of the latest increases:
Different types of chequing accounts are increasing their service charges around 20 to 30 percent. That’s an insane increase, and it’s the second time in the past year!
On one account, with a couple of banks, it looks like the service charge went down, or was eliminated. Well, not really. It’s a shell game, because they drastically reduced the number of free transactions before you have to pay for each additional one.
There’s a bunch of accounts that will now also add a $1 charge to send your statement. Yes, you have to PAY to find out what the transactions are. For on-line statements, you won’t have a charge, but now you have to pay to get it by mail.
The carrot to get your monthly service charge waved just got a lot further away. The minimum monthly balance went up by 25 to 50%! So if you have $1,500 or $2,500 in your account, the fee is waived. But then, that’s billions of dollars the banks get to use for free, if you add up all the chequing accounts.
On savings accounts, the per-transaction fee increased by 25 to 50% as well. And that’s for EACH transaction on savings accounts.
Heavens forbid you ever bounce a cheque by mistake, because that’s now $40 to $45. Or the can trap you with an overdraft which changed with a number of banks from prime plus a bit to a fixed 19% or so. With Scotia, for example, that means the overdraft rate has more than doubled.
I would bet almost nobody knows this, or has read the notification. You have to look at your statement, and get in touch with your bank. Better yet, move your business to the credit union. Because the only way things will change is when you complain and vote with your feet! Until then, the banks know that THE most loyal clients are people with basic savings and chequing accounts. That’s also a large quantity of people, so $2 or $3 in added fees, twice a year, is billions of dollars of pure profit.