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Feeling Upset and Stupid About My Bank

January 10th, 2008 at 03:17 am

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.