Posted on March 13, 2011 11 Comments
It’s no secret that I’m a reluctant customer of Chase Bank. I was an enthusiastic customer of Washington Mutual; I liked the way its employees did business, the way it treated me like a valued customer despite my teensy savings, and especially loved its free checking and policy on ATM fees. When Chase bought WaMu I was immediately turned off. My first visit to a local Chase revealed a stuffy, pretentious, old-school attitude, and I felt pretty ignored/invisible when I was inside the branch. As a Chase customer, I immediately started incurring ATM fees that WaMu never charged. I’ve never actually had a conversation with anyone at Chase in my local market — in fact, the company usually communicates by snail mail and usually only to share bad news. For instance, a few months ago they announced new checking fees (but never personalized the message to tell me whether or not the new fees applied to me). And yesterday, I read this article in the Chicago Tribune saying that Chase may start limiting debit card purchases to $100. $100?!
Of course, other banks are considering following suit. Talk about alienating your customers! I use my debit card for everything – including monthly automatic bill pay for a few accounts that definitely charge more than $100 per month. And now the banks want us to use credit for that. Credit?! Just when America was learning to ween ourselves off our credit cards!
The sad thing is that this move is being considered in response to federal regulations designed to stop unsavory business practices among banks, namely that they charge too much per transaction from merchants. And I’m generally in favor of more regulation for the banking industry but in this case the unintended consequence is bad for consumers. I much prefer carrying my card to carrying cash (cash makes me nervous to carry).
While this news isn’t exclusive to Chase, if they go through with this it will be the tipping point for me to switch banks. And it wouldn’t be the first time. The reason I initially started banking with WaMu was because my old bank, Minnesota-based TCF was having trouble keeping my account information straight. Once, they took $100 out of my account randomly and wouldn’t give it back. Another time they credited my account with some else’s deposit. Obviously not the kind of people I want to bank with. So I got out of there. And I won’t hesitate to do it again.
So what’s a good bank to consider? Here’s what I’m looking for: free checking with no limit on what I need to keep in my account. Free savings. No ATM fees, none. Pipe dream? Perhaps. But I won’t know until I start looking. I like ING, and I noticed there are a few ATMs near me. Does anybody reading have feedback on ING? If so I’d love to hear it.