As I document my financial journey, I must mention that I’m switching banks. When I was in college, my mom opened an account for me at the Alabama Credit Union because they had some special running for new students at UA. Throughout college, I used them and it was fine and great and good.
When I moved home to New Orleans post-graduation, I tried to continue using the AlabamaCU, but they were putting holds on the checks I deposited, because I was out of state. I used to share a house with some friends, and I collected the rent and paid our landlord. The credit union held my checks for the max allotted 11 business days after depositing. As you might imagine, this was incredibly inconvenient, since there was no way I could get my roommates to pay me two weeks ahead of time, and no way I would have an extra couple of thousand bucks in my account as a cushion for when the rent was due.
After I realized what was happening and why, I took a full day to research banks. I literally went in person to 6 different banks near my house, asking about fees, rewards, points, credit cards, etc. Until that point, I had no credit cards and no debt (oh how things have changed in 5½ short years! Ugg). I wanted a credit card so I could start getting points and free things! (I used it responsibly for about two years, and then things changed… but I digress.) I chose Whitney Bank because they were the only one who offered a combined pool of points to come from both debit and credit cards. How cool! I kept the credit union account open, but only used it for savings, not checking.
But then, Whitney got bought out by Hancock Bank and my “free checking” started having a monthly fee of $7.50. I wasn’t happy about it, but I wasn’t quite angry enough to do anything about it. Also, after Hancock took over, my debit card no longer accrued points. And THEN, just last week, they slapped me with a $75 charge in “legal fees.” I saw it on my account and was outraged! I didn’t authorize this, where did it come from?! Well, the IRS saga continues, and it turns out they had had to process some legal paperwork regarding my account, and they charged me for it. But didn’t tell me.
Now, I understand most banks probably have similar legal fees. What made things go from bad to worse was the guy on the phone, and his supervisor. I think the moment they saw that the IRS was involved, they started treating me like a second class idiot. I was very polite and respectful, and really, they were condescending and rude. Also, I asked them to provide me a list of fees I might incur in the future, and they said they have no such list. And I looked and looked on line and couldn’t find one either. I emailed their online customer service and have yet to hear back. I believe the $75 charge was not just out of the blue, but I’d like to know what else they might charge me some day.
And then I realized, you know what? I have never had a lick of trouble with the AlabamaCU, and I don’t really ever deposit paper checks anymore, and I’m so much more organized with my finances now that even if they did hold a check, I’d probably be okay. And their customer service has always been awesome. And so even though I’m still out of state, I’m going to close my Whitney account and go back to using the credit union primarily. Yep, I’m done. The monthly fees should have been enough to make me make the switch, but they got me again, and that’s strike three in my book.
I emailed AlabamaCU’s customer service about taking my mom’s name off of the account, and adding Michael. They were super nice and immediately responded with all the paperwork* I needed to get filled out, and this morning I sent it off. The moment Michael gets his debit card, I’m closing Whitney forever.
I’m feeling very good about this right about now.
*Frugal Plus: Several of the documents I had to send off had to be notarized. One of the cool things about being a grown up is that I have friends who are practicing lawyers now—out of law school, passed the Bar, the whole nine. When I was home last weekend I met up with one of my best friends. We went to an awesome roller derby bout and she notarized our papers free of charge while we were in the stands! Score!
Have you put up with something expensive you should have nipped in the bud long ago? Is there any reason that I’m missing to not use a credit union primarily? Do you get perks from your friends’ cool jobs?