At many big banks, no more free checking

Free checking, RIP. It was nice while it lasted.

Reversing a trend that began in the mid-1990s, big banks are imposing new fees on their least-profitable customers — those who want just a bare-bones checking account.

Those who can’t maintain fat balances, or who don’t use other services that would make them more lucrative to a bank, probably will need to cough up about $100 a year if they want to stay put.

Blame the financial crisis. As part of the reforms adopted after the banking system’s near-meltdown in 2008, the federal government has made it more difficult for banks to impose credit-card late fees, debit-card overdraft penalties and other charges.

Saying the new rules will cost them billions of dollars a year, the big banks plan to bring back maintenance fees on basic checking accounts.

The country’s four giant banks — Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Citibank — are already phasing in the charges, and large regional banks are expected to follow suit.

The upshot: If you’re not prepared to stockpile cash in a checking account, be prepared to pay a monthly fee or to take your money to a smaller bank.

Of course, free checking was never quite free — at least for the banks. Large institutions typically spend $300 to $350 a year to provide a checking account, including paying for branches, automated-teller machines, online account access and customer service by phone.

Avoiding monthly charges now will take some work.

You can read the full article at http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/la-fi-free-checking-20110204,0,3997818,full.story

(K.K.)

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About internalmarket

This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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