Chase Sucks

I opened my first checking account with Washington Mutual when I was 16 years old . I loved the bank and loved having a debit card in high school (it made me feel cool, even though I really wasn’t). Fast forward, eight years later. WaMu goes under, gets bought out by Chase, and the whole world comes to an end… almost.

I recently received a letter from Chase indicating they would be making some changes to my checking account. I usually get letters like this every few months, but the changes are almost always minor things I don’t care about. This letter was different…

As of February 8th, 2011 those who have a Chase Checking account will be charged a $10.00 monthly service fee.

Hold the phone?! Let me get this right. You are going to charge me $120 a year to access my own money? Heck No Techno! That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

If you want to avoid paying the monthly fee, you have to meet one of the following criteria…

– have at least one direct deposit of $500.00 (or more)
– or keep a balance of $1,500.00 (or more) in your checking account
– or keep an average balance of $5,000.00 or more across multiple chase accounts (checking, savings, investments, etc).
– or pay at least $25.00/month β€œin other qualifying account fees (not including the $10 monthly service fee).”

Could I meet Chase’s demands and avoid the $10/month checking account fee? Of course. But I’m a man of principle (and stubbornness) and I refuse to negotiate with financial terrorists. That’s right….terrorists!

My solution to the problem is quite simple. Change banks. Girl Ninja and I are now proud customers of Wells Fargo. It’s probably the second best decision I’ve made (the first best was starting this blog, the third best was marrying Girl Ninja…kidding…kind of).

I’m a firm believer of voting with my dollar, and in this case, I’m taking my dollars to another bank. Have any of you seen any changes to your financial accounts recently? Did anyone else get this letter from Chase? Let’s pretend your bank gave you the same letter Chase gave me. Would you just suck it up and make sure you meet one of their demands, or would you say “Screw you Chase” and move on to another bank that doesn’t have requirements for free checking?

58 thoughts on “Chase Sucks”

  1. I don’t know that I would have done the same thing because I have two direct deposits of $800+ each month so I would have met the criteria. I just love Suntrust.

    But I can respect you voting with your dollars. If everyone did the same thing, maybe organizations would reconsider their practices, fees or whatever. Good for you!

    • Girl Ninja and I have over $3K direct deposited in to our checking accounts each month. We already meet the criteria to have the fee waived, but I just think the whole idea is lame. Like I said, I’m probably stubborn, but oh well. Wells Fargo, here I come!

      • Ninja – your actions are admirable – but that’s going to become the norm at many banks. Fee free checking accounts are disappearing fast because of the whole overdraft opt in rule change that took place this year.

        Banks made a BUTTLOAD of money off of charging overdraft fees. But that huge amount of profit came from a relatively small number of customers.

        You’ll probably still be able to find fee free checking at major banks – but it might not last at Wells Fargo. At some point you might want to think about a local bank or credit union instead.

        Check this out for more details

  2. What would I do if my bank sent me this letter? Change banks too!

    I only need a brick & mortar bank so I can quickly deposit checks. For those very rare cash withdrawals, Ally pays my fees. Actually, I switched to Ally from E*Trade for the very reason mentioned in your post. I was avoiding the monthly fee on my Max-Rate Checking account by transferring funds from my Complete Savings account and back, automatically, every month.

    Come to find out a few months down the line that this wasn’t a qualifying transaction to waive the fee, and I hadn’t been charged due to an oversight on their part (thanks?). When I signed up for the account, I asked if I could do exactly what I had done to avoid the fee and was told yes. So, effectively the situation was pretty similar. I went from no fee to a fee and would have to jump new hoops to avoid it. No thanks.

    The most effective way to curb a business practice is to decrease a company revenues associated with that practice. Don’t like Walmart? Don’t shop there. Your bank being super lame-o? Don’t bank there. Nice post! And I really love your stick figure cartoons!!

  3. This happened to me with Citibank a few months ago. I rarely used the account. So I closed it and went to Chase where I have a direct deposit of more than $500. I never got the letter but maybe I dont need it. Do what’s best for you and your money.

  4. The hubs and I bank with Chase. And since our salaries go into our Chase Checking account, we don’t have fees. I really like Chase because they have been nothing but good to us. There are 3 ATMs within 5 miles and one is inside the Walgreens that we frequent. They have waived some of our “stupid tax”es in the past. And since I use Direct Deposit for my salary I don’t really think it’s a big deal.

  5. Good Q – what is your pain tolerance?! If I already met a requirement, I would ponder the time & paperwork it would take to change. I’d fear getting caught in between & charged, like between the time you turn in the paperwork to HR, to actually receiving the paycheck in the new account, and the date of closing the Chase account. It also depends on how many other ridiculous fees they charge, the proximity to my home, and the availability of ATMs in the tri-state area (to avoid fees). This is why I have USAA – no fees, real live people in the customer service department, and a refund of ATM fees up to something insane like $60/mo.

    Now if it were a fee to see a teller like BoA – I would be gone lickety split!

    • I love USAA!!

      They are the best bank ever! and I’ve had all of them. Customer service is exceptional and live. Ontop of that they don’t try to sell you things you don’t need. I’m in the process of switching everything to USAA

        • I love USAA, but I’m also lucky enough to be a military offspring. I just checked and according to USAA’s website:

          USAA’s investment products, most checking and savings products, credit cards, life insurance, and shopping and discounts are available to other individuals. While auto and property insurance policies are not available due to membership eligibility requirements, we can still help.

          So banking at USAA is open to non-military.

          • USAA is absolutely the best bank on earth.

            The only downside is you can’t deposit cash without mailing it in. And I’m not mailing cash. But we just keep it and use it as needed.

        • I am not a military offspring nor am I in the military. You can get the benefits of USAA without having to sign up and be all you can be. There are benefits that I cannot access because of this HOWEVER, the benefits that I do qualify for are the ones I need:
          *NO ATM fees(this is great since I’m on the east coast and they are based in the west)
          *FREE Checks for LIFE(I pay for shipping $6)
          *Great customer service
          *If you have more than 1 product with them you can SCAN DEPOSIT(life saver!)
          * Free bill pay
          *Get paid a day earlier (Direct deposits from my job are available THURSDAY morning instead of Friday)
          * I get a certain % back if I do POS purchase with my debit card instead of choosing debit.
          *They also have an online expense tracking system with a graph! (very handy for budgeting)
          *DID i mention no ATM fees?
          *I have my ROTH with them and the trades are comparable with other institutions(cheaper if you do everything online)

          They are a VERY VERY Transparent bank.

          Becauseo f USAA I no longer use mint, and every other device I used for my financial needs. They make it easy. I do have hard copies of eveything because I’m a littel anal with my money.

          If you want more follow up ninja check out JMONEY he has 11accounts with USAA and he went to visit their offices! I think he did a post on it.

          GO USAA!

      • USAA have their own subtle way of pitching products i.e. “I see that you are eligible for a 50K Home Equity Loan, would you like to talk to the loan department”. Sometimes it pisses me off when they tell me this before I am even done asking my questions. However, they do have exceptional customer service.

        • I am not a military offspring nor am I in the military. You can get the benefits of USAA without having to sign up and be all you can be. There are benefits that I cannot access because of this HOWEVER, the benefits that I do qualify for are the ones I need:
          *NO ATM fees(this is great since I’m on the east coast and they are based in the west)
          *FREE Checks for LIFE(I pay for shipping $6)
          *Great customer service
          *If you have more than 1 product with them you can SCAN DEPOSIT(life saver!)
          * Free bill pay
          *Get paid a day earlier (Direct deposits from my job are available THURSDAY morning instead of Friday)
          * I get a certain % back if I do POS purchase with my debit card instead of choosing debit.
          *They also have an online expense tracking system with a graph! (very handy for budgeting)
          *DID i mention no ATM fees?
          *I have my ROTH with them and the trades are comparable with other institutions(cheaper if you do everything online)

          They are a VERY VERY Transparent bank.

          Becauseo f USAA I no longer use mint, and every other device I used for my financial needs. They make it easy. I do have hard copies of eveything because I’m a littel anal with my money.

          If you want more follow up ninja check out JMONEY he has 11accounts with USAA and he went to visit their offices! I think he did a post on it.

          GO USAA!

  6. While outrageous at first glance, I wonder how many people actually will wind up having to pay this $10/month fee. I’d imagine the majority of their checking account customers have either direct deposit or meet the minimum $1,500 balance each month. But I’d still be ticked off to know that I’d be subjected to the fee if I didn’t meet one of the criteria. Again, this is why we use a local bank — better service, fewer fees, higher interest rates. And convenient to where we live.

    • I will totally sign up for a local bank or credit union once Girl Ninja and I know where we will be living long term. All about the local business when it makes sense. I’m jealous of you πŸ™‚

      • Don’t think credit unions are innocent either. We just got charged with a fee for using on line bill payer through our credit union ($0.50 per bill pay, and we use it a lot). The only notification we got was through their on line message center, which I never read. They never sent us email or a physical letter. When I called to complain, they said they did what they had to do as required by law. I’m with you; my money will be going elsewhere assuming I can convince the hubby to switch to Ally for all our banking.

    • The lame thing is the people who don’t meet this criteria cannot afford the $10. What Chase is basically saying is “If you don’t leave enough money in our bank we don’t want to spend the miniscule computing power needed to process your transactions”. That’s fine, Chase is a business and they can set barriers to limit the kind of customers they get. However, I would leave because it is indicative their mindset.

  7. Yep. I got that letter this week too. And it totally pisses me off, especially having been a loyal Chase customer for many, many years (transferred when Bank One was also bought out by Chase). I mean, I even kept that ATM card sleeve from my FIRST card!

    Sad, really because I loved the benefits of the Continental debit miles too. Now that Continental has been merged, combined with these ridiculous fees (sorry, I’m a freelancer, so my account balance varies WIDELY, and I keep my savings in an online bank), I’ll be opening joint accounts with the boyfriend at his bank (no fees, since he works for them). I tend to think now that the caps on overdrafts and credit fees have occurred, banks are only looking for another way to make more money off the bulk of their customers. Bastards.

  8. I also failed to mention in my last comment that Chase bank is not located in the Pittsburgh area, yet I STILL KEPT MY ACCOUNT because 1) I still liked Chase; 2) I could still use mobile deposits and PayPal transfers from client payments and 3) $2.00 wasn’t a big deal to pay when I needed cash (even though borrowing from the boyfriend is MUCH cheaper). πŸ˜‰ But since cash withdrawal fees are ALSO being increased (at non-Chase locations — by which I’m surrounded), I have another reason to cancel.

  9. Because I have such a large EF and my job allows me to cut up my debit card, banks don’t hassle me too much. The credit cards are a different story. Because I like to keep a high FICO score, I jump though hoops to keep my oldest credit card open which is 33 years old. My second oldest card is only 6 years old. I wish I had a few more credit cards that were mature so I could cancel my oldest one which gives me headaches.

  10. Wells? Good for you to switching, but you just entered a darker plane of hell. Why are you still putting your money with companies that have screwed america over? Fees? Try robo-signers in a mortgage mess or leveraging themselves so much the fed has to bail them out. Switch to a CREDIT UNION where they are there to serve YOUR interests, not theirs. Or at least a local bank or something like Everbank. Wells? That was a green-belt move there, Ninja. Keep punching debt in the face!

    • Whaddup Kevin,

      I switched to Wells for two reasons.

      1) I already have my Roth IRA through them, so by keeping my checking account there it helps minimize the number of different financial institutions I have accounts with.

      2) I qualify for PMA status with Wells, meaning I have at least $25K with the bank. When you hit PMA they offer all sorts of crazy awesome incentives (like 100 free investment trades a year, almost all fees are wavied, free checks (with custom design) for life, cutomized debit card, and a bunch of other goodies).

      I would totally be down to go local, but I want to wait until I establish roots and know where I will be living long term before I do that. Few banks can compete with the services provided with a Wells PMA status accounts.

      • Wells was (and still is) my first bank. I have my Visa with them, so all I do is transfer money every month via free online banking. I also have a credit union. My rule of thumb: Always have at least two banks/credit unions. If one of them treats you bad, put all your money in the other.

  11. FYI – Wells Fargo sucks too. I was a Wachovia customer for 10 years (I’m from NC so they’re a regional bank there, not a crappy national chain) and when they got acquired by Wells Fargo things went downhill rapidly. My monthly statements started appearing with fliers that said “FREE CREDIT MONITORING*” …followed, in very very small print, by “*for one month.” Basically, you signed up for free credit monitoring and then they would automatically begin to debit your account after one month. While I’m savvy enough to have read the entire flier, many people wouldn’t be. To me, that wasn’t a bank looking out for my best interest. So I left. <3 USAA and <3 Charles Schwab, both of which are fully e-banks and offer ATM fee refunds so I can use any ATM in the world, even the one at the gas station which charges me $3.

    • Wells does that to me too. The key is to just ignore it. I don’t mind the marketing because they don’t fee me to death: no fees, ever =)

    • I had Wachovia too before they were taken over by Wells Fargo. I didn’t like Wells Fargo or their mindset pretty much from the start. I have since moved my money to a local credit union and a local community bank. I get amazing customer service, my banks both lend money while most of the bigger banks aren’t lending and I no longer get hit with misc. fees (even though I supposedly had free checking).

  12. I got the same letter, but my direct deposits from work waive the fee. I’m sticking with Chase because there are a ridiculous amount of ATMs/branches in the 3 cities I live/play in frequently: SD, Seattle & NYC!

    So you switched from a bank which would charge you $10/month IF you didn’t meet the requirements to one where you’d be charged $30/month (per you PMA status) IF you didn’t meet $25K monthly minimum? I’ve had many friends drop Wells Fargo for various other banks since they were getting fees left-right-and-center, plus they always complained about abhorrent customer service. Here’s hoping you never drop below $25K! πŸ™‚

    • Yes, there is a $30/month PMA fee if the $25k threshold is not met. Meeting this obligation should not be a problem as I have my Roth IRA with Wells and that balance alone will be able to sustain PMA (that is unless we have a financial apocalypse, but then the $30 fee will be the least of my worries).

      More importantly though, I switched to Wells because at least I am rewarded (pretty significantly) for having my accounts with them. Chase it was like “Oh hey, we aren’t giving you anything extra for meeting these obligations, we just wont charge you the $10/month”

      Wells is like “Oh hey, yeah if you don’t meet our obligations we will charge you a $30/month fee, but if you DO meet the criteria we are gonna hook you up fatty with all sorts of perks, benefits, and rewards.”

      Either way I’m looking at meeting obligations to keep free checking, but with Wells I signed up knowing about the minimum (as opposed to Chase who just changed my 9 year old account policy) and Wells is going to give me perks for meeting those obligations πŸ™‚

  13. Join a community bank or a CU – they really need your business. Chase doesn’t care.

    Every financial mess and you’ll find these top banks deeply involved. I switched from BofA more than 10 years bank and became a member of a CU that I’ve never set foot in. Haven’t regretted that move once.

  14. I bank with a local bank but keep credit / loan accounts through Chase and Wells Fargo, both. While the larger banks certainly have more robust online banking features and more ATM locations, my local institution’s eChecking program offers:

    – A 2.04% interest rate
    – A refund on all ATM transaction fees
    – An actual person in my state (heck, in my county) answering customer service calls

    In exchange for that you only need to receive online statements (which I prefer anyway), make regular debit transactions, and have at least one direct deposit (any value) monthly. Not many large banks can even touch this. I’ve only seen similar offers through credit unions and other smalltown banks.

    I used to bank with big banks, but changed my tune when my primary PNC account continually got hit with fees.

  15. While I am only 21, I have banked with Wells Fargo for my whole life. My parents opened a fund for me when I was born. When I started to work/go to school they opened a college account for me. Totally free, just needed some sort of direct deposit going into it. I had many other accounts with them that I was consolidating and when they were doing all of that, they closed my free checking account only to open one that charged me $12 a month! I don’t know why they did that and now they don’t even offer the College Accounts anymore. After a few months of them taking $12 out of my checking AND my savings, I left to go to USAA. They just gave me a real nightmare when they should have kept the free one open.

    Bonus is now I get a discount on my renters and auto insurance because they are all with USAA. Score.

    • Wells did something like that too me. This rogue employee changed my free checking to a management account with a fee. Why did I not leave? Believe it or not, the original person who set up my account (8 years ago) called me and said “Did you change this?” before I even noticed it. I had not talked to this person in 8 years, but she cared enough to give me a call when she say the change. All banks have issues. The key is to be firm with them and see how well they do customer service.

  16. Retarded! I don’t bank with Chase, but I would have done the same thing you did. The only letter I’ve gotten recently is from my bank – and they sent it like 90 times – about how I need to hurry up and sign up for overdraft protection. But what they really meant was: allow us to pay when you go over your account so we can charge you out the a$$. I think this was part of the new credit card act or something? Anyways, I never signed up for it because it’s retarded and I’ll never need it anyway.

    • Ugh, I hate overdraft protection a.k.a. payday loan. I’m more insulted that the banks even offer it to me.

  17. I have written a post about how much I loathe Chase. I have had a credit card with them for 9 years. A card that I am currently paying off. They seriously ticked me off and even though it is my oldest credit card, I will be closing it as soon as it is paid off. I hate them. I hate them for the letter they sent me that told me that basically because I had a job, a good payment history with them, and had transferred money to a card like they wanted me to, they were doubling my minimum payment OR jacking up my interest rate. Yep…thank you for being a good customer, now we want more of your money.

    HATE Chase personally. But that has nothing to do with your question….

    Good for you for making a change just on principle. I would have done the same. I know nothing about Wells Fargo, so I can’t speak for them. But I chimed in above about USAA. Definitely the best way to go in my opinion.

  18. I’m with Chase (through Wamu) but haven’t gotten the letter yet. My coworkers have. If they try to charge me, I’m going to say I never got the notice… because I didn’t!

    And then I will probably change banks for the same reason as you did.

    The funny thing is my husband recently switched from Wells Fargo to Chase because Wells got his name wrong on the account and debit card and checks and failed to correct it after we notified them and followed up three times.

    I think our next options are either credit unions or Charles Schwab.

  19. I’d be outta there. Just the push I would need to get into one of those nice rewards checking accounts being offered on-line. Ally bank or ING would work just fine.

    I think that my bank might actually do this too in the near future. US Bank is just a little slower then Chase.

  20. I definitely would opt to change banks to one that offered free checking and any other services I consider vital.

    Sadly according to many reports I’ve read the CARD Act greatly restricted the fee income banks used to make on credit and debit cards (particularly debit card overdrafts) and they’re looking for ways to replace that income. I suspect fee-based checking will get more and more common. It was pretty common back in the 1980’s for banks to charge $6-$10 per month if your account did not meet the minimum balance requirements. My point is free checking was not always available without a catch.

  21. Bloody good question. I don’t keep that much in my checking, but I get paid straight into my account and have at least $5k in my saving account. And I love my bank – they have great accounts, decent interest rates and most of all KICKASS internet banking unlike any other in NZ…so I’d stay.

    If I didn’t meet the criteria? I’d have to think about changing, I suppose.

  22. Well now I am just depressed…. I got a similar letter but my fee is $12.00 per month. That means my account must have been in an extra special catagory.

    It still had the $500/month direct deposit requirement which I meet so I am not switching.

    (I already have my savings account and fun money account at Wells Fargo)

  23. My current bank has something similar… I get 10 free debit transactions a month (no tellers, electronic transfers, etc). If I go over, I have to pay for each transaction at 60 cents per cost. UNLESS, I have $1,500 in my chequing account. Then the entire fee is waived.

    I keep my account there for convenience sakes. My banks everywhere so that’s a plus & I just consider that $1,500 part of my Emergency Fund now.

  24. I got this same letter in the mail today, and like Colorado No Money, my letter said the fee would be $12 per month. I’m not happy about this letter. I’ve banked with them (well, with Bank One and then Chase) for about ten years now, starting in high school.

    I actually have two checking accounts with Chase. Both are the free/basic checking accounts, though one is my own and one is joint with my husband. Interestingly enough, I’ve only received the letter for the non-joint and lower balance account. I’m wondering if they are targeting certain accounts, or if another letter will be coming soon for the joint account. I deposit my check into a Credit Union account we opened about a year ago, not Chase — since the Credit Union account actually earns meaningful interest. And lately, we haven’t been keeping a lot of cash in Chase accounts. Most of the money we have in Chase is in our joint account, with enough to pay bills and buy groceries etc, while we earn debit rewards on transactions. Reading the fine print, it doesn’t seem like money in other Chase checking accounts would be counted toward the $5000 min, though that’s somewhat unclear to me.

    I guess I may be closing the non-joint checking account, as I certainly don’t want to be slapped with ridiculous fees. We may even consider transitioning all business to our Credit Union, and just close all Chase accounts.

  25. I’m waiting for Fifth Third to mail me a similar letter. I have a checking account with them and the balance is always $100. It connects with my ING Direct accounts and I only use it when I need to deposit cash.

    If they do, I’ll first call CS and see if I can get out of it. If not, I’ll probably just close the account. I can deal with cash another way if I need to.

  26. I was going to ask how you got a free account at wells fargo in CA, but then I saw you had a PMA Account. Those are rock awesome. I used to be phone banker for Wells and my folks have a PMA account and they are totally worth it especially if you have a large account that meets the $25 k mark. You also get your own super special customer service line. If you ever have to call, use it because they can do things for you that the normal customer service people can not.

    My folks even keep there PMA account when the do drop bellow the min because the perks are so awesome.

  27. I’d be kind of angry, but since I already have direct deposit going to my checking account, I wouldn’t have to worry. If they made it so it was impossible to avoid the fees, I would definitely move my account. It would be annoying, since I have a lot of accounts at one bank, but I’d do it to save money.

  28. Oh hell no – this post just brought up my anger that I had at recieving almost an exact same letter from Citizen’s Bank, except their new fee was $5/mo which I could “avoid” by either:

    1) Keeping $1500 balance every month
    2) Making at least 5 “qualified” purchases with the Visa Debit or regular Credit card

    I felt the same way as you – I could easily bypass this fee but it was on principle. So even though I was worried since I actually liked my bank ladies of offending them somehow, I marched down and closed the account. I opened one up at my local credit union which is truly free checking, with free checkbooks, free online banking, etc AND I earn interest on both checking and savings accounts (not a whole lot but Citizen didn’t offer bupkus).

    So I feel you and Citizen’s can now kiss my money goodbye. As for the terrorists comment, I lived in Israel for the last 3.5 years and not only did I deal with real live terrorist attacks/Gaza war (I’m not trying to be political or offend anyone, I’m just saying), but their banking ways are much the same and worse in some ways πŸ˜›

  29. We were also happy WAMU customers that got swallowed by Chase. I make myself happy by using them for their ATM locations (my husband and I get a lot of checks for our hobby jobs) and immediately get all of our directly deposited paychecks transferred to ING Checking. I don’t mind using them for their technology and using ING for our main bank. πŸ™‚

  30. I wouldn’t do it for banks, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t for other things.

    My current bugaboo is US Airways miles. They arbitrarily decided that miles should expire after a certain period of time. My hubby has 29k points with them that they say have to be sepnt by December 31st or they’ll cancel them. But the only flights we can reasonably do with them cost 30k points. Hubby wants to make up the difference by buying the points to get him from 29k to 30k, whereas I can’t fathom rewarding them for implementing a stupid rule.

    • But they didn’t HAVE to give you ANY points to begin with. Those aren’t YOUR points. Those are their “gift” to you for flying with them. And their “gift” has stipulations.

  31. I switched from a national bank to a Credit Union years ago – and never looked back. Awesome customer service and no fees?


  32. I am in the process of closing my Chase account now! I just transferred out all my money a few days ago. =)

    So there is my answer. πŸ˜‰

  33. Lucky you! Chase sent me the exact same letter, except for $12 a month! I was a former Bank One customer and had avoided any fees up until this point. Oh well, off to the local credit union!

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