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May 28th, 2009
09:06 AM ET

Hit by Hidden Bank Fees?

Getting a loan from a bank may be tough, but bank fees certainly aren't hard to come by. Check your statements - savings and checking accounts seem to be the latest targets as banks try to boost fees.

Have you received a notice from your bank that it’s increasing fees? If so, let us know what it says. We’re looking into what different banks are telling their customers

Have banks gone too far? Or are new charges fair in this economy? Leave us a comment. We’ll read some of them in the CNN Newsroom, 11am— 1pm ET.

Filed under: Tony Harris
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Stephanie

    Last month my minimum paymet was $47 and i payed it off, and then i got hit two weeks later with a mysterious service charge fee of $47 and another one for $5. In these hard times if you can't afford to pay the minimum then your out of luck- basically not even paying my credit card off at all; when the bank is collecting more and more money!

    May 28, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  2. David Jerard

    Banks always do process checks first and deposits seconds from one day to another. Deposits need to be either times sensitive or deposits need to be done first with the bank. Banks get customers all the time with this in play.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  3. Aaron

    I went to an atm and selected "savings" to withdraw, the bank withdrew it from my checking account and charged me overdraft fees for that transaction and two after. They then charged me two more overdraft fees for the fees they put on the checking account because it had a negative balance when they withdrew the fees. Outrageous.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  4. Cameron

    Banks for many years enjoy's nickle and diming their customers. This is why I have no sympathy for their demise.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  5. wasim

    Most of the time we do not check our bank statements and I am one of them, last two months, I read my statements carefully and found out that my bank pentagon federal credit union charged me 10 dollars and .50 cents twice, I visited the bank and they told me that my checking accounts average daily balance went below 500 dollars,that is why they charged me 10 dollars. My advise to everyone out there is please read everything particularly the little tiny things.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  6. Philip Milano

    I have overdraft protection, but I do not understand why the bank should be able to charge me a $7 fee (which is up from $5) when the money to cover the overdraft is in my Savings account. All they do is transfer an amount to cover it, which I could do for no charge, if I knew the overdraft was coming. I watch my account carefully, but sometimes "things" do happen.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  7. Jennifer Franks

    Wachovia is now charging $5.00 fees for cashing a standard Wachovia check at the bank. I walked in there the other day with a $25.00 check and they would only give me $20.00 since there is a standard $5.00 fee now for cashing their own Wachovia bank check. So when your Grandmother sends you a $20.00 check which happens to be written off Wachovia, when you take it in to cash it, Wachovia will keep $5.00 for themselves. Even though, there is no cost for cashing their own check, it is just a way to force you to pay the fee since obviously you can't bring a Wachovia check into another bank to cash it. How can a bank no longer honor cashing their own checks for what it is written for? This has to be illegal!

    May 28, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  8. Hoppy Arnold

    A trick of JP Morgan/Chase on their credit cards is to offer a special rate as long as you make your payment on time and then they continue to change the due date shortening the period you have to make your payment. If you don't notice it or can't make the payment on the shorter time frame you make a late payment. Once you are late they jack the rate to 29.9% and charge you a $39 late fee. Great scam.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  9. ebonet jeffcoat

    Let me first say that I work for a bank in NC. Coming from a bank perspective bank fees are a part of the business. People don't realize that we are a business and it takes money for us to continue to exist. Bank fees are not charged if you do the right things, such as keep up with your balance and don't over spend. People seem to think that we take money from our clients just because we want to. On the contrary we want clients to be happy and keep doing business with us! The biggest issue is clients are provided with ALL fee documents and ALL changes in fees in PLENTY OF TIME. It's not like we raise fees once a week! My biggest gripe is client who come to me MONTHS after recieveing fees to complain. They NEVER check thier statement and don't utilize their online banking and automated banking options. It is the client's resposibility to keep up with their balances. We try the best we can, but if you don't take the time to check on your account don't be mad at us when you have a fee. I encourage people to talk to your banker. They will help you and answer ALL your questions.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  10. James Steffensen

    I worked at a bank for almost 3 years before getting fired for not making my sales goals, but banks have many many fees that the public does not know about. I wouldn't be unethical and got fired because of it, but I know many other banks will do whatever they have to do to get loans, checking account or anything from client and that includes telling them its free when they know its not. I wouldn't do that and therefore didnt make my goals but other would do this make there goals. Of course the clients would come back and they would tell them something different when they came but but that is a problems with all banks right now. Banks are pressuring their employees so much to make goals that they are doing whatever they can and that includes telling clients things are free when they are not at all. Someone needs to look at this because its causing more problems then solutions for everyone. I got fired because I wouldnt play ball and do uneithical things to make goals. I did would I could but during this time it is very hard when no one trust banks. Im watching my wife's account rgiht now because we got a notice of fees on that account if we don't have direct deposit on it, we do but im still watching it and I look at al my accounts and credit cards at least once a day. It only takes 5 minutes to make sure everything is right. You would not believe how many client came to bank and have fees on the account for months on end and say I don't look at my account. IM sure some of them are just lieing but some people don't look at their accounts and fees or fraud could be on them and they wouldnt even know it. Bottom line this is a problem everyone is facing right now and there needs to be some direction and accountability of the banks to stop the fine print and start doing business right.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  11. Roger King

    So far, my bank has not increased it's fees. Instead, they have began to actually pay checks and EFTs when the checking account balance was not even close to being enough. My example? 1 – I ordered a pizza online, and accidentally used a previous profile that had my bank debit card as the method of payment. WIth 1cent (yes 1 cent!) in the account, they paid it, then slapped the ISF fee of $36 on top of it. A few months ago, the same thing happened and I got a "transaction denied" error message.
    Example 2: an automatic insurance payment was also cleared (the deposit didn't make it on time) when the account was short by over $50... followed by the ISF fee AND a charge for every day the account remained overdrawn. Three months before, the payment was denied when I was only $6 short...

    So it seems some banks are not raising their fees, but rather tweaking their computers in other ways...

    May 28, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  12. Cheryl

    I just found out that my credit union is now charging $5.00 for every overdraft from my LINE OF CREDIT to my checking account! What makes me so angry is that they're already making interest on the balance of the line of credit if I happen to need it to cover my checking account, so why do they need to, in a sense. 'double charge' me for the use of this line of credit! What this does is takes away my peace of mind – now i constantly have to monitor my checking account to make sure I don't go over, when before I could rely on the line of credit to cover and then transfer back at my convenience...... so maddening! by the way, I was so called 'notified' of this fee increase on the bottom of an online statement back in March – I never saw that notification and was then surprised by the fee when I needed the overdraft protection last week. I have let the credit union know how angry I am – doubt they'll do anything....

    May 28, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  13. Charmaine

    About May 3, a notice from Bank of America came with my bank stmts. The notice states that, "The fee per statement cycle will be $8.95. The only way to avoid the fee is by maintaining a balance of at least $1,500... or if you have a regular monthly qualifying direct deposit. I receive SSI and have yet to get a straight answer if SSI qualifies. The fee begins on or after June 5th. I threw a fit. Wrote them a long email about how adding the fees will be a wash financially for them. They advertised heavily online that I could open as many personal ckg accts with no fees. So I opened one for my daughter who has 2 sick kids in Dallas thus avoiding the $25 transfer fee. $25 is 2-3 meals at home! I opened another for my 75-yr-old mother. When I have any extra money and they are in desperate need, these accts enabled me to transfer funds to those accounts and they used the ATM card. Now I'll have to close the accts and mail handwritten checks. Bank of America, as you know, got ta HUGE bailout, so I'm paying twice. I paid taxes for years as a self-employed and as an employee. In addition to paying for the bailout, I am now paying for the "free" checking accounts. I'm pissed.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  14. Michelle Simac Nieves

    It's great that you're covering this topic. The other day I was hit with a $32.00 overdraft fee. What's ironic about this is that my husband and I set up our accounts so that if one account is low on funds when a withdrawal comes through, money is "supposed" to be automatically taken from the other account to make sure there isn't an overdraft.

    Please continue to look into these ridiculous fees, they are getting out of hand.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  15. mike

    i am 18 year old college student and i just got hit with $210 of overdraft fees. this is outrageous

    May 28, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  16. Mike Miller

    We moved to Oneonta, AL last year and one of the best surprises was this great small bank in the area. Hometownbank has office hours on the weekend, very reasonable fees and is very responsive to any customer needs, Maybe this is why a small bank in north cental Alabama can compete so well against the Goliaths. If you find a great provider make sure that they are talked up and support them.
    this is the way to fight the corrupt and greedy.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  17. Earl Roehm

    Overdraft and NSF fees are completely avoidable. They are only applied if your overdraw your account and bounce checks, or write checks on uncollected funds.

    Uncollected funds are non-local checks being deposited from out of state or country. It takes clearing time for a financial institution to receive credit from the Fed for these items. If in question, ask your teller what is the clearing time so you will know when funds are available.

    Don't take the bank's balance for what is available as you may have outstanding items. You must keep your register accurate and balanced each month when yourstatement arrives. Failure to do this is just being financially lazy and you are putting yourself in for some problems down the road.

    Checks clear faster today than they used to and if you write a check today and think you have a couple of days to get to the bank, bingo, you probably will get hit with a fee the same day you wrote the check.

    If your credit is good, get overdraft protection, which may cost you $40 or $50 a year, but a lot cheaper thatngetting hit with NSF/OD fees and also peace of mind.

    All of us are in control of this, however too many of us are not religious about taking care of our financial business. This is something your parents should have taught you and the same goes for charging on credit cards and not paying the full amount off when you receive the bill. Credit cards should only be thought of as a convenience and paid off when you get the bill. If you can't do that, destry them or they will destroy you financially.

    Thanks for asking.


    May 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  18. Mark Langford

    The Founders created a blueprint for our nation called the Constitution. I find it amusing that you focus your energy on what a business(banks) triy to pull on consumers, while ignoring what the Federal Government does on a daily basis. The document has not one aritcle, section, or amendment to protect the citizens from business. The writers has the intelligence to understand that consumers will talk with their money when they feel abused. Perhaps if you were not so left leaning, you could see the wisdom of their thought, and have reports on the truly scary things happening to our great country.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  19. andy knorr

    I just cancelled an Alaska Airlines Visa card after I noticed a New $75
    yearly fee! Don't need it Don't want it Thanks

    May 28, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  20. RJ

    not sure about hidden bank fees but how about credit card companies raising interest rates for no reason. My wife HAD a Capitol One credit card for years, and never late or missed payment. Now Capitol one wants my wife to pay for other peoples mistakes! She went from a 5.9% to 15% overnight. Well Capitol One not this sucker, we transfered the balance to a ZERO percent interest rate and will never use your service again. Notice to all credit card companies, if you choose to raise our other credit cards rates for no reason then we will get rid of you too and pay the old fashion way, with cash!

    May 28, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  21. RJ

    an overdraft fee is NOT a hidden fee, its called pay your debt on time!

    May 28, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  22. RJ

    Hey Mike, 18 years old and already in debt to credit cards, do you even have a job to pay for it? My guess is that you dont or not a real job and really have no business having a credit card!

    May 28, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  23. sas scott

    I'm more concerned how banks control the way your debit card or bank card purchases go through the bank. This process can incur many many fees, if they let them go through the way they see, they will be making a big profit off the customer.You make the purchase, but on that day it doesnt go through on that day, it can take up to several days to post. I don't know how they are getting by with this or exactly how it works, but it's probably one of the best scams around, because if they post a certain way and you don't have all the funds available, it will cost you big time. I would love for someone to investigate it, I need more help.I just know someone is sitting behind a computer for the banks and trying to see how the best way to add up the fees on you. They are even allowed to charge you 26.00 fees if you are just a penny short. What can we do about this? Thanks!!!!

    May 28, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  24. Dirk Atkinson

    Dear Tony,

    Hidden Bank Fees – The Visa Debit Card

    We know that banks make a fortune on NSF fees; so it is a natural conclusion that they would create policies to increase and insure those fees. The hidden fee that makes me most angry is the Visa Debit Card.

    When you are at a point of purchase you are often given a choice of a Credit or Debit use of your card. If you choose Debit, the card will check your balance and not let you overdraft your account; and therefore avoid NSF charges. If you choose Credit, the card will let you make the purchase, and if the funds were not in the account, at the time of purchase, when the bank reconciles the account at the next midnight hour you will be charged NSF fees.

    Here’s the rub, modern baking technology has the ability to prevent you from using your Credit feature on your Debit card if you do not have the funds available. Of course if the banks did this they would lose BILLIONS of dollars in revenue.

    Let’s face it; the Credit Card Industry still has a stranglehold on this country. In essence the CC companies are taxing almost every non-cash transaction in the USA. Banks and Credit Card companies have out flanked the American public and built a lobbying empire that is going to be difficult to curb. I wish that the recent Credit Card reform included a stop gap for these types of hidden fees.

    The solution is to make the Visa / Credit feature on a Debit card give a payment grace period such that you can recognize the overdraft potential of the transaction and transfer or deposit enough funds in your account; thirty days would be good.

    There are many more reasons that NSF fees are a set-up in favor of the banks and they need those fees or they will have another financial crisis. Banks do not have an easy way to replace those fees and it is an important consideration when cutting one of their major revenue streams. Perhaps banks need to do what the rest of the Country is doing and tighten their own belts.

    Thank You for addressing the bank fee issue,

    Dirk Atkinson

    May 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  25. Charmaine

    I can scan the pamphlet I received from Bank of America and email it to you if you like. It shows ALL the fee changes.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  26. Gina

    Commenter "sas scott" is onto something: The most egregious use of fees has to be by Wells Fargo, which has a policy of posting transactions not in the order of when they were transacted, but by amounts — greatest to smallest — in order to "protect the customer," they tell me. In practice, this policy generally allows Wells Fargo to charge several overdraft fees when in reality, the customer's last transaction may have been the only one that really overdrew that account.

    This has happened to me (and countless others, I'm sure) several times, costing me hundreds of dollars when my own mistakes should have cost me only a fraction of that.

    A journalist myself, I've tried to do a little digging on this practice but was only ever told that this policy was in place to protect the customers: so that larger "more important" transactions (like rent, bills, etc.) would safely pull from my account while (less important?) other transactions... didn't?


    As in my case, those smaller transactions are generally debit transactions, and as far as I know, those are never NOT paid. I've never seen a Starbucks transaction not go through, a tank of gas not debit, a lunch go unpaid.

    No, in reality, my bank has pulled large "important" transactions through even when I didn't have anywhere near the correct amount of money in my account. And, in fact, I couldn't tell you the last time they DIDN'T pay an item that overdrew my account. (How could they pass up the chance to ding me with yet another fee?)

    Their entire basis for this policy is complete bunk. Not to mention the increasing length of time it takes Wells Fargo to post transactions to my account, especially with their most recent update to their banking web site. Interesting that when my account is "full," those transactions seem to pull through pretty quickly; and when I'm coming up close to empty, they tend to linger for several days. How convenient.

    In my digging, I will disclose, I have managed to get them to reverse a couple of those fees here and there, but not recently, and not before spending an hour on the phone with a manager. The last time I tried this, I was told Wells Fargo had already done me too many favors, which is key: When reversing the fees, they always stated they were doing so as a courtesy, not because their fee is wrong and I had called them on it.

    True, customers need to take to responsibility for their mistakes and not overdraw their accounts. But in this incredibly tough economy, with so many people living paycheck to paycheck, how dare banks like Wells Fargo practice such flagrantly punitive policies. I would venture a guess that this policy has helped Wells Fargo stay solvent on the backs of their customers even as other banks folded.

    I just pray they get hit with a class-action lawsuit and soon. (I know there's one in the works in my neighborhood.) And I hope CNN picks up this story and runs with it.

    May 28, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  27. rich sottilaro

    Well it's the classic tail wagging the dog here!! These are fellow americans screwing middle class americans AGAIN!!! How can congress not act on this and quickly. The other measures Obama put in place kick in about 8 months from now. That's not enough soon enough.
    They just keep on taking taking and taking more. People are losing their house jobs and financial stability and now higher gas prices and all these extra fees for what???????????? As Michael Moore eloquently put it the banks are like company coming over and stealing the silverware on the way out. Lastly let us not forget where this problem really started and that was in 1999 with a small group of congressmen reversing the ruling from 1932 that banks and insurance companies CANNOT CROSS OVER INTO EACH OTHER'S BUSINESSES THUS PREVENTING THE VERY CRISIS WE HAVE NOW!! All of those congressmen are to blame for today's crisis!!!


    May 28, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  28. Sam Mitchell

    I am a member of a local credit union. I have never been charged any fees. I am a member and the credit union is made up of members. When there is a problem I get a call and an opportunity to straighten things out. Credit unions operate under different rules than banks. Credit unions are for people and banks are for businesses. Spread the word.

    May 28, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  29. kevinmc3

    This comment "an overdraft fee is NOT a hidden fee, its called pay your debt on time!" is the narrow-minded mentality that bank's thrive on.

    WHO doesn't go over their ATM balance now and then. In a world where no one writes checks anymore, buys everyting with debit cards, depends on online banking system balance reports (which are 24-48 hours off) , the banking system has created their own "scam" system to milk consumers with overdraft fees and substantially add to their rveenues.

    I wrote about my recent experience on my blog:

    May 28, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  30. ebonet jeffcoat

    Okay wait a minute. You want to say that the bank has "scams" But we don't hide anything. There is always mutiple correspondence when there is any changes in your bank service agreement. Banks are required by law to do that. I think of a scam as something that is done behind your back. Banks must inform clients of any changes that could affect their account. Don't think you know the system if you've never worked in that environment. It's a little naive to think that ALL banks are out to get you. You must understand that there rules. Most people who have problem with banks just don't understand how they work. If you took the time to read what the bank gives you and ask questions you would be able to understand how things work a little better. Plus I have been on both sides of the coin when it comes to bank fees

    May 28, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  31. kevinmc3

    ebonet jeffcoat,
    Yes, the standard banking employee defense is "to read the FINE print". Yet, we all know 95% of the population doesn't spend time or understand the intentionally confusing jargon buried in the miniscule font print you give us. I suggest you read what Sam Mitchell said above. I couldn't have said it better then he.

    May 29, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  32. In the hole

    ebonet jeffcoat
    I have overdraft protection on an acct that I have had with BoA for over 15 years. I had never been overdrawn on that acct. until recently. I stopped using the acct. when I ran out of money in March. My charges are all due to the enormous service fee that BoA charges for accts. less than $750. Do you think that BoA contacted me when my issued started? NO Banks won't contact you until you are hundreds of dollars over. That is a problem! Please do NOT defend the banks to me. I will NO longer bank at a bank after this!

    July 3, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  33. velma scheppa

    why do you have to pay for a overdraft after hour from the bank you cannot clear adeposit after hour also you have $18 dollar check come in also a$10 dollar check come in they bounce the $18 first so they can charge $30 each when you already have $10 dollar in account could have atleast paid off the $10

    September 2, 2010 at 10:02 am |

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