Hit up those ATMs and start carrying cash again, our beloved debit cards that we have used at no charge for years are not going to be free anymore. Many banks are raising the monthly charge to use a debit card from the current price of nothing to $5 a month.
I am going to assume most college students own and frequently use a debit card, like I have for many years now. They are easy to use, convenient, safe and did not cost us a dime. We all took this for granted and thought that we would always have these cards for free. We, in the state of Washington, will not have these effects take place right away, but banks are threatening to make these experimental programs nationwide.
Bank of America announced that beginning next year most of their customers who use debit cards will be required to pay $5 for every month in which they make a debit card purchase. This means that if you forgot cash one day and purchased a soda for $1.25 out of the vending machines here on campus, and that soda was your only purchase during the month, the overall cost of your soda would be $6.25.
It is outrageous that banks can actually charge us for spending our own money. The only way to avoid these charges are to have a top-tier account that require either $20,000 or $50,000. I do not know about you, but I most definitely do not have that much money in my checking account, as I am a college student and do not really have much money to save.
All this came after the U.S. Senate passed a bill minimizing the amount of money a bank could charge per debit card purchase. The Senate reduced the amount banks can charge from 44 cents to 24 cents per purchase, according to The Seattle Times. You may think that this change is a lot and Bank of America’s new charge is reasonable — I am here to tell you it is not reasonable at all.
These purchases only cost the bank about seven to ten cents per purchase. Bank of America claims this will cost them $2 billion annually. I do not believe banks should make as much profit as they do, especially after we have seen in recent years how unethically and idiotically they chose to divvy up their profits. One example of this is when they awarded their executives with large bonuses during the financial meltdown.
I also do not whole-heartedly agree with the decision by the Senate. I think the fee the banks were charging stores per debit card swipe was a reasonable price. It is better for the businesses to pay more for each debit card purchase than for us to have to pay to use our debit cards — especially since accepting debit cards brings in more customers than if they only accepted cash.
If you know a little something about banks, you also know they are extremely hard to leave. The banks have many hoops you have to jump through, and things you have to do to fully leave the bank. All hope is not lost, though. Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) said that he plans to introduce legislation that makes it easier to leave your bank to switch to another bank that will not charge you to use their debit card or switch to a credit union.
My recommendation is, if you are affected by any recent wrong doings by your bank, do not wait for them to change their ways. Take matters into your own hands. Leave your bank and make them pay for treating their customers poorly. Most banks nowadays do not provide many benefits to their customers. They get more out of you being a customer than you get out of having a bank. So do some research. Find a bank or credit union that will actually tailor to your needs and leave your old bank as quickly as possible.