Friday, June 22, 2012
Bank of America and Its Hidden Fees
I have been banking at Bank of America for the last 30 years. For the most part I have been satisfied. But I have to mention an incident about six months ago that infuriated me. I always thought, I had an overdraft protection on my checking account. However about six months ago, I was charged a $35 fee when my balance went down to negative $1.50. Evidently my SS and pension checks were one day late. Today, this has been settled and hopefully this incident will not happened in the future.
Bank of America infuriated many customers last fall when it attempted to implement a $5 fee for using a debit card. It comes as a surprise then that the bank is the most transparent one out of the 12 banks in the survey. All the disclosure information Pew looked for is available online. In fact, Bank of America spelled out the extended overdraft penalty fee directly on the account webpage, the only institution to do so. Although Bank of America has not adopted the same schedule as Chase Bank, Weinstock said it has been receptive to Pew’s recommendations.
Bank of America has been considered the worst-run of the large banks. Its buyout of Merrill Lynch in late 2008 cost the bank billions of dollars in losses. It still uses the Merrill brand for much of its brokerage and personal financial operations. Bank of America also bought mortgage lending giant Countrywide Credit in early 2008. Losses from Countrywide’s large prime-prime mortgage portfolio further damaged Bank of America’s balance sheet.
Wall St. compiled a list of the top and bottom three banks in terms of their transparency with customers regarding checking account fees. Pew measured how 12 different banks disclosed nine different pieces of information regarding checking account fees:
- Minimum deposit needed to open an account - Monthly fee - Requirements to waive monthly fee - Non sufficient funds fee - Overdraft transfer fee - Overdraft penalty fee - Maximum number of overdraft fees per day - Extended overdraft penalty fee - Posting order
Bank of America is Number 1 in compliance as of today!
Online Disclosures: 9 of 9 Information Available on Account Webpage: 5 of 9 Information Unavailable Online or at Branch: 0 of 9 Revenue: $115.37 billion
Be sure you know the fees charge by your bank from the nine transactions listed above.