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Feeling Upset and Stupid About My Bank

January 9th, 2008 at 07:17 pm

I have been working very hard with my money situation. I've been keeping a spending plan, growing my savings, and planning a bit for my retirement. I've even started chipping away at my debt-- using the debt snowball method, and saving for a future vacation (in September) and yet I still feel like I'm failing... case in point: I have thrown at least a couple hundred dollars down the drain over the past two years!

Many factors have contributed to this, two big ones-- myself and my bank.

I opened my first bank account when I was 16, I just got my first job and needed a simple checking account so my dad and I opened a "Student Account" with both him and I as account holders. The big point about this account was that it was free. No minimums, no fees, and overdraft protection, being a kid this was important. This was also back in 1998 so I've had the account now for 9 and a half years.

Now fast-forward past my college years full of typical money mishandling and you'll see me, starting to keep a good budget and making sure I have a cushion in my checking for "just in case." This month that cushion is especially important because my paycheck is less than it usually is due to the holidays and me not working. I've kept an eye on myself, promising not to spend a dime of this cushion so I could get through January without any hiccups (this has been hard) So when I checked out my account figures this morning and noticed my cushion was cut by a THIRD! I knew there had to be a problem. I havent used my debit card and no checks have gone through yet so there's no way money could be missing from my total.

When I log in to my checking account I am automatically sent to my statement page that would normally list all my debits and credits. But since today is a new month for my account there was nothing listed there- no transactions have gone through. So some kind of transaction must have gone through since the last time I checked my account at 9pm Tuesday and this morning. So I click through my menus to get the screen I saw yesterday and there and behold at the very bottom of my screen is a little $14 service charge. Fourteen Dollars.

I cannot believe they would charge me $14 to have a checking account with them. Wasn't this suppose to be free? What happened? I couldnt even find out online if I've been charged this every month.

So I called my bank and talked to a nice lady and it turns out that when an account holder turns 23 it is automatically changed into a "Regular Checking" account. I'm now 25.

I never noticed. Never. And it's all my fault, mainly because I've never been so diligent when it comes to checking my account before. Plus, they hid it between statements. If I had been using my debit card like normal there's so many ways I could chalk up that $14 to-- maybe it was a couple of bar tips, or tax on something I didn't calculate...?

But here's the kicker: It's not $14 every month. The actual service charge is $8, just for having an account. And then the lady on the phone informed me that every time I use my debit card they charge me $0.30 cents! and if I use my debit card and my pin number it's another $0.30 cents. I had to ask her to repeat that twice. I thought I was going to cry.

Do you know how many times I use my debit card? Who knows how much money they've made off of my ignorance? Shouldn't I have known about this account change and these fee charges?

BTW, Every time I wrote a check it was 0.40 cents!

Anyways, I wouldn't have known ALL of this if I didn't call the bank and ask what the charges were, if it was a mistake and to see if they could reimburse me.

The lady asked me if I would like a "Free Checking" account. I said "well, yes, I believe I would!"

Now I have to find out if it will hurt my credit to close an account I've had for 9 years! TWO of which has screwed me out of at least a couple hundred dollars!

BTW I gave blood today.

19 Responses to “Feeling Upset and Stupid About My Bank”

  1. simple987 Says:

    Ahhhh!! That is horrifying. But at least you caught it before more charges. A good story for those who like to ignore their finances.

  2. Mr. Meager Says:

    Sorry to hear about this. Just imagine there are those not so concerned to look into hidden fees and still paying such fees. If you are talking about just closing the checking account, then there should be no affect on your credit history. From my bank employment days, banks usually use ChexSystems to verify a potential customer's checking writing history. Usually when you open an account with a bank, they call your SSN into ChexSystems, and if previous banks have never reported any bad check writing habits on your SSN, then ChexSystems will tell the bank that the SSN has no record, meaning no bad records. If the overdraft was a credit line on your credit history than that might have an affect, but you might be able to have it transferred to a new account. I applaud your concern about fees you knew nothing about.

  3. JanH Says:

    Is it also free to use your debit card now? If they still charge for that, I would check around at different banks. I would have cried, too! I need to review my bank's policies just to make sure....

  4. luxliving Says:

    So, does this mean you haven't been balancing your checkbook each month? Or are you saying that those charges never appeared on your statements but just came out of the account w/you unnotified??

  5. Caroline Says:

    "Balance your checkbook"--- I think I've heard my dad mention that before...

    Yeah, I never really cared to during my irresponsible times. Sometimes it was too depressing, sometimes there was too much to "balance" Now I do.

    But also I was never notified that my account changed and that I would start being charged all these fees

  6. luxliving Says:

    Oh, I see. Well, thanks for posting this - I've got two at home one 19 and one 21 w/student accounts...I'll have to keep watch in a couple of years to see what happens if I'm still listed on their accounts at that time.

  7. EnglishTeacher Says:

    I would probably leave that bank.

  8. simple987 Says:

    Would you mind indentifying what the name of the bank was? I am really curious.

  9. M E Says:

    I feel pretty safe in saying :

    1 - Why in the world would you give that bank ANY of your business????

    B - opening/closing a checking/savings account has ZERO to do with your credit score.

  10. Caroline Says:

    It is First Citizens Bank and Trust.

    Also, yeah I am thinking about closing it and moving to an ING Direct Electric Orange Acct. I was just afraid that it would be like closing a long standing credit account.

  11. luxliving Says:

    This may seem a silly question, but how are you getting your blog to be sticky at the top of the blog roll?

  12. Caroline Says:

    blog roll?

  13. Thrifty Ray Says:

    Closing a bank account does not effect your credit unless you do not clear up a negative balance. Unfortunately banks can and will change terms and charge fees and unless you open your notices and balance your checkbooks on a regular basis...this will happen. A bank account should be reviewed regularly...just like any other monthly bill. It is an unfortunate fact that banks are in business to make a profit and will do so whether or not you agree. (My recommendation, find a good local credit union.)

  14. campfrugal Says:

    It is true with young people who have checkings with debit cards. I have a 22 yo son who has no idea where his checkbook is. He always uses his debit card and never balances his money. The scarry part is, when I look at his statements, he is always overdrafting and never has any money in his savings for protection, so they charge him $20 every time he does this. I got down on him and told him to stop doing that. He can't afford to loose that kind of money monthly. Totally bad money management on his part.

  15. Nic Says:

    Leave the bank...there's lots of competition who would love to have you as a customer.

  16. Caroline Says:

    yeah, ^ I definitely going to take that advice, I'm just not sure if I want to go with a brick and mortar bank or an online checking account. And if I go with brick and mortar should I go with Wachovia or Bank of America...?

  17. campfrugal Says:

    Credit Unions are always good choices and have an ING savings(or something similar) attached to it.

  18. Caroline Says:

    Thanks^ I'm eligible to join my local credit union so I think I may look into that some more. I love my iGO high-yield savings so I don't want to switch that. But ING's checking might sound good also, but the logisitics of random checks to deposit might be a problem (eww snail mail)

  19. baselle Says:

    The bastards. Have a good bloodletting, then find another bank. This happened to me also.

    Check out Bankrate.com for banks in your area. You can see how stable they are, how many branches they have near the places you frequent, the rates and terms.

    BTW - their iGO account is probably the lure that traps other folks too. Unless the money you make in this account is greater by 4% or so from the money you lose with those fees...not worth it even if you love it.

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