Fed up with fees? Ways to break up with your bank - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Fed up with fees? Ways to break up with your bank

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email 

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Make a purchase, get paid.  MEA Federal Credit Union members will soon be able to take advantage of a program in which certain retailers offer money back for using a debit card.

"If you spend $50, and they're going to give you $5 cash back, it comes back to your account," says MEA Federal Credit Union CEO Polly Bell. 

Such perks are hard to come by these days, as banks continue to make changes that cost customers. 

"Debit card reward programs are going away, they're being scaled back significantly, we're already seeing a decline in free checking accounts, and you may end up having to pay a fee to carry that debit card as opposed to getting it free today," says Greg McBide of Bankrate.com.

Wells Fargo, Regions and Sun Trust are banks that will, or have already started charging customers a monthly fee for using their own debit cards.

Some also charge for paper statements, and one survey found using another bank's ATM has gone up by almost $1 for the average customer.

"Add it all up, this is a couple hundred dollars a year for many consumer households," adds McBride.

If that's money you can't afford and you're considering calling it quits with your bank, consider your needs when shopping around.  For example, if you do most of your business close to home, a community bank or credit union might be a good option.

"We simply don't nickel and dime our members," says Bell.  Bell also says rates on cds are pretty good, members can often get a better deal on loans, plus MEA has a new program where folks can skip a payment.

"You can get free, safe deposit boxes, or the lower fees on ATM usage, or no fees on debit cards," Bell adds.

Online banks have a better rate on savings accounts, so that's a good place to stash your cash.  Plus, some will reimburse ATM fees.

That new debit card fee starts in about two weeks for Wells Fargo, but not all customers are affected.  Call your branch to find out.

In fact, if your bank has added a fee you're concerned about, it's worth asking them to waive it.

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