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Home | Blog | Solvency Shark | December 2012 | My new bank: An update

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My new bank: An update By David Pilley on December 13, 2012 Well, it’s been about 4 ½ months since I’ve switched banks, and I just wanted to give a brief update on how I’m doing. Way back in 2005, I was a strapping 18-year-old, getting ready to graduate from high school. I opened my first bank account with Wachovia, a bank my parents had been affiliated with since the 1970s. Everything went smoothly for a while, and it also helped that my college partnered with Wachovia for funding and charity events. I had one incident where somebody stole my debit card number, but that was because I made a mistake on the Internet, not with my bank. Then, in 2011, Wachovia was bought by Wells Fargo. The old stage coach came in like a robber baron, stealing my own money. The new bank convinced me to get a high-interest savings account, and they took away $5 every month where there was a lack of activity on my debit card. Some transactions were appearing a day late, and Thursday afternoon check deposits would not show up in my online statement until Saturday. The biggest offense was the elimination of free checking. Beginning in August, all Wells Fargo banks in North Carolina installed a $5 fee for customers who receive online account statements and a $7 fee for those who receive paper statements. I had had it. I was done. The bank tried to wheedle me into staying by promising the fee would be waived if I either had $1,500 in my checking account, if I had at least a $500 direct deposit each month, or if I used my debit card at least 12 times per month. The main monetary goal for me—a 25-year-old recent college graduate still trying to find a full-time job—is to SAVE. There is no sane reason to have $1,500 in my checking account when I barely have $1,500 at all, and there is no reason for me to make 12 purchases a month on my debit card. Later down the road, when I’m owning a car and working a full-time job, I may fulfill all of those requirements. Fresh out of college, I cannot. Therefore, I had to make a switch. I switched to a new bank called First Citizens, and I have not a single regret. Everything works! I was able to set up direct deposit with the one job that supplies it, and I was also able to set up automatic transfer with the cable company, so my bill could be taken out every month. The best part is I have avoided all fees! In fact, the only fees involved with this bank are directed towards the savings account. First Citizens would administer a $5 monthly fee if I do not have at least $300 in savings at all times. Maintaining $300 in a savings account is easier than maintaining $1,500 in a checking account, and that is the truth for everybody! First Citizens offers free checking, and on a base level, that is the only reason I chose the bank. The happy tellers and great customer service are a nice bonus. First Citizens is also not sending me junk mail every month about a new credit card offer; guess who is still doing that? Yes, Wells Fargo wants me back so badly. It feels nice to be wanted, but I know the only reason they want me back is to take my money. Take CEO John Stumpf, for instance, who said this in a recent interview with the Associated Press: “We give people (free) access if they do enough business with us. If they choose not to do business with us but for one thing, we charge them ($7) a month for the access to that nationwide distribution. That's a bargain. Our customers understand that. We've had minimal issues in that area.”

Poppycock. I can go to a search engine right now and find hundreds of articles about why people left the bank. (Type in “wells fargo customers leaving,” if you don’t believe me.) That’s certainly not “minimal” in the “issues” department. Taking my hard-earned money from my account is not a bargain. I don’t need to deal with a bank who is getting sued for improperly ordering customers’ transactions, causing people to overdraft. I don’t feel comfortable with a bank that was fined $85 million for falsifying mortgage documents. I’m not going to do business with a bank that had to pay $432.5 million in a settlement because it targeted minorities for predatory lending. My new bank may not be perfect, but at least it knows a $7 fee for simply having money in an account is NOT a bargain. Yes, it’s been 4 ½ months since I switched banks, and it will be a longer period of time before I make another switch. Posted: 12/13/2012 5:00:00 PM by David Pilley | with 0 comments Trackback URL: Comments Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.

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My new bank: An update  
My new bank: An update  

After switching banks in August 2012, I gave an update on how I was doing 4 1/2 months later.