Banks are basically a bunch of bricks-and-mortar cannibals when you think about it – one is always getting gobbled up by another and customers get dragged along for the ride.Consumers don’t always know there’s been a change in service until they receive a “Welcome” package in the mail with details.
Members from web-based Aurora Bank, which was recently purchased by New York Community Bank, were in for a rude awakening when they cracked open their packets this week.
Beginning in June, they’ll be kissing their ‘fee-lite’ account terms goodbye, according to Consumerism Commentary.
Here’s what they have in store:
- Minimum initial deposit amount: $2,500
- Minimum balance to earn interest: $2,500 (up from $1,000 at Aurora)
- Minimum balance to avoid monthly service charge: $2,500 (up from $1,000 at Aurora)
- Monthly maintenance charge: $15 per cycle if balance is below $2,500 any day during the month (not an average daily balance, not a monthly ending balance)
- Tiered interest rates ranging from 0.05% to 0.30% APY
These are pretty bold adjustments – especially for a community bank – but chances are smaller branches won’t catch quite as much flack for fees as their Big Bank brethren like Capital One, which was blasted for buying ING.
“In cases like that where they don’t want to annoy or ruffle too many feathers with customers, they’re probably a little bit more reticent to raise fees,” said Stephanie Wei, VP of banking account comparison site Nerdwallet. “It really depends on the situation and how customers react.”
Bank of America and Chase’s failed attempts to implement a $5 debit card fee are proof positive.
And BofA first canceled and then reinstated one man’s lifetime free checking account after his old bank was bought and he complained in the press.
“It’s up to the consumer to be vigilant,” Wei added. “Just check your mail and then decide if you think the new (fee structure) is too egregious, then vote with your feet.”