Changing Banks: Fee Me Once, Shame on You, Fee Me Twice, Shame on Me

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.

THREESTRIKESBut 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?

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22 thoughts on “Changing Banks: Fee Me Once, Shame on You, Fee Me Twice, Shame on Me

  1. I refuse to pay bank fees and have always got them reversed if they suddenly appear on my statement due to a banking “error”. I’d suggest everyone should have a quick chat with their bank if they are paying too much in bank fees, and tons of people pay the fees because they don’t know they can be reversed

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    • I’ve gotten a few fees reversed here and there, but really, I think the culture of the bank I was with just wasn’t very focused on the customer experience. I’m very happy about having made the switch!

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  2. We’re still dealing with some issues from about two years ago (one of which is a reason I’m all worked up and still awake at this miserable hour). My husband keeps telling me, everything will be alright, everything will be alright, but I’m sort of over the reassurances and just ready for this whole mess to be over with.

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  3. Bank fees are ridiculous and unnecessary. Our bank has never charged us but we have used a bank that has so many stipulations its absurd. You must use your debit card a certain number of times a month, your balance must be such and such, three deposits required, and, oh ya, you have to do a handstand at least once a month while you figure out if you’ve reached the requirements. Lol! Vote with your dollars and use the bank that makes sense to you!

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  4. I freaking hate those fees just to hold an account. I flipped out when my husband’s bank started charging them and pretty much demanded he switched. And then I told all of our friends they should switch, too, and they called me crazy for going ballistic over $7/month.

    Whatever. I know how hard he works for those $7. Maybe they all have easy peasy jobs.

    Customer service is so key with banks. I’m glad that your credit union has been treating you right, and that you’re able to go back. Even if you do get a paper check, do they do that electronic deposit thing? Maybe that speeds up the time compared to what it was those years ago.

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    • Yes! I should have flipped out about the $7/mo a long time ago! Going back to AlaCU has been pretty easy since I never closed the account. But, no, they don’t have electronic check deposit yet, I don’t think. But that’s okay! I rarely need to deposit checks anymore. I’m just happy to be back with them.

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    • Especially since they couldn’t tell me specifics about any other fees! I felt like they were saying, “by opening the account you agreed to fees, so now we have a free pass to charge you whatever and whenever.” I couldn’t believe it!

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  5. Our bank was bought out about a year ago. Since then the fees started rolling in. Thus far it hasn’t affected us to bad yet but I know other’s who are being hit month after month. I’ve considered switching banks but have gotten spoiled by how close we are to it and the great customer service. We live in a small town and the tellers know us by name and that we have 2 boys and I’m just not ready to give up that small town feeling yet.

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    • I completely understand, that’s what I’m saying, customer service is KEY. You might be willing to pay a little more if you’re treated like family, and I definitely was not willing to overlook this fee because of the way they treated me!

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  6. How in the world did you manage to put up a post and I missed it?!?!!!! 😦

    Argh! I dislike banks SO much. We opened an account when we got here and it was ridiculous. You had to keep $500 in checking or the fees would start to accrue. What? Now they want to charge ME to use MY money? No, I don’t think so. So we stayed long enough to cash those stupid travelers checks and then we opened a credit union account. We still have the credit union account open up north too. I will never do business with a regular bank. NEVER! Sorry for your $75 thing, Chela, but I would fight that BIG time! I fought a cable company once and won. I did it by contacting the state attorney general AND the better business bureau. I’m rooting for you! 🙂

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    • I think I’ve fought as hard as I can on this one, and I know that technically, they’re right. I agreed to all these undisclosed fees by opening the account. Okay. It was the way they talked down to me that sealed the deal.
      And why did you open a different credit union account? Can you not still use the old one through credit union service centers? That’s what I plan to do with AlaCU.

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      • Our credit union was only in New York state. There’s a shared branch down here, but it’s about 30 miles away. And the one thing they won’t do is cash checks if you don’t belong to their particular credit union. I would have loved to stay exclusively with my old credit union. I had it like forever and they NEVER fee’d ya. 🙂

        P.S. I’d still fight it. People get fees “magically” revoked all the time. Like “poof”!

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