Financial Whack-A-Mole

Many of the nation’s banks are still in business today, thanks to the generosity of the American taxpayer. Now they’re about to give you a “thank you” gift, the Wall St. Journal reports. New fees and check charges.

In the financial version of Whack-A-Mole, the banks are jacking up charges to make up for the revenue lost with the government’s crackdown on certain business practices, the newspaper said.

The changes come against a backdrop of rising anger at the nation’s banks–having been largely supported by hundreds of billions of public bailout dollars in late 2008 and 2009. One recent survey by Chicago’s Bank Administration Institute found that 43% of retail-bank executives feel that consumer trust in banks has eroded in the past six months.

To make up for lost overdraft revenue, banks are promoting greater use of debit cards, which can be more profitable for banks than processing paper checks, and new types of checking accounts.

If you think you can avoid the fees by cutting up the card, some banks may start charging customers who don’t use active accounts.

Also expected to be a casualty of the revenue grab: Free checking. TCF Financial Corp., a bank that uses a “totally free checking” slogan, is re-thinking a plan to start charging a monthly fee on accounts that don’t meet minimum balances, the paper said.

  • Al

    Greed. It’s the American way. It’s not enough to be rich, you need to be filthy rich. I’m hoping this recession will give rise to a new generation of business people and statesmen and women who are as concerned about the common good as they are their wallets – people who brave enough to do well by doing good.

  • Momkat

    Glad I bailed out of TCF some time back when they wouldn ‘t extend their free checking to existing customers. So far, my credit union isn’t as fee-happy and has wonderful service.

  • E in Mpls

    I refuse to have anything to do with “regular” banks unless absolutely unavoidable. My credit union is *NOT* fee-happy, as Momkat mentioned. The only problem with them is that they’re in Michigan, so it takes planning to drive over to the one ATM here in town that doesn’t charge me (yes, one). That versus the total screw-the-customer banking?

    If only 47% of bankers think customer service has eroded … well, that just goes to show how COMPLETELY out of touch they are with reality. That number should be 100%.

  • Elizabeth T

    So, I realize you posted this yesterday … but, Bob, did you have to make my Monday morning any more depressing than it already was going to be … ?

  • kennedy

    Banks got into trouble by making risky investments. Now they plan to recoup by charging fees to the people that provide the cash in the first place?

    Cash under the mattress may be a good idea. Using only cash transactions will keep us from spending what we don’t have, though. Living within our means is not as much fund as spending tomorrow’s paycheck today.