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Old 08-11-2011, 01:43 PM
836 posts, read 1,380,466 times
Reputation: 484


I just received an email from Suntrust Bank that due to "changes in the Federal Banking system" that as of November 10th they no longer will be offering free checking accounts. They will have 3 fees 1) $7/mo service fee (which is waived if you have a direct deposit from payroll or government or maintain a balance above $500) 2) $5/mo for unlimited check card use (the first time you use your check card in a month that's when they tack on the fee). 3) $1/mo for 'safekeeping' of my checks.

As such I was wondering if most/all banks in the area will be increasing their fees for checking accounts? If you know of a bank that plans to continue offer totally free checking in the future please post.
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:10 PM
Location: Sarasota/ Bradenton - University Pkwy area
3,209 posts, read 4,569,229 times
Reputation: 2762
I was reading about this back in March on the DailyFinance web site.

As a result of the passage last year of the Credit Card Act by Congress, the Federal Reserve (which by the way is a private corporation) changed the rules so that banks could no longer automatically charge overdraft fees on debit card purchases. The banks also have lost revenue on interchange fees (charged to the merchants) paid on the use of those debit cards. Banks were charging up to 2% of the purchase to merchants, they are now capped at 12 cents per transaction.

So these banks are looking for new sources of revenue to make up for the 2 revenue sources they lost.

Where are they looking to get back that revenue? Checking account fees. Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase have already made changes to their checking "tiers" in some parts of the country. It appears Suntrust is now joining them. From what I've read, you can still get "free" checking if you stay about the minimum required deposit amount or meet the direct deposit guidelines of the bank.

Those hurt most by these changes will be people with smaller incomes. It's ironic, as those are the very people Congress was supposedly protecting when they passed the Credit Card Act.

I wonder how many other local banks are jumping on the checking account fees bandwagon?
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:27 PM
836 posts, read 1,380,466 times
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Well upon further reflection I still think I can just about keep mine for free most of the time at Suntrust.

1) I get a direct deposit so the $7/mo fee will be waived

2) The $5 month fee for check card use only applies if I use my check card that month. (They also have a $5000 checking account with free check card use - but I don't want that). Also if I use my check card at an ATM to withdraw cash that doesn't count as a check card transaction. Purchases are what is counted as check card transactions. So it looks like I'll be paying cash most months (instead of using my check card) to avoid the $5 fee

3) I called Suntrust and the agent was unclear about the $1/mo check safekeeping fee. He had to go look it up and then he referred to it as a "check imaging fee". He said it's optional and I could decline it. However on the Suntrust web site it said the $1 fee was "standard" for this particular checking account. I guess I'll have to look into that one further later. At least all of this doesn't take effect until November 10th.
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:50 PM
Location: Sun City Center, FL
177 posts, read 609,256 times
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USAA still has free checking and savings accounts --- these are available even to people who aren't eligible for some of their other services (which are only available to active duty military, veterans, and their children). I have been very pleased with their service.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:00 PM
Location: Wandering.
3,496 posts, read 5,546,661 times
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I haven't gotten a letter on the personal account yet (I'm sure it's on its way).

Suntrust dropped the free business checking about 6 months ago (I was honestly surprised to get free business checking in the first place!). We pay a flat $10 service charge each month for that account now.

They canceled the points program on the personal credit and debit cards earlier this year as well.

I wouldn't be surprised if most banks do go to some fees for basic accounts. Like Sunshine Rules said, they were making lots of little bits from the debit and credit transactions that they can no longer get, so they are going to have to make a profit somewhere else.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:07 PM
518 posts, read 1,039,851 times
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I use Wells Fargo. My checks and service is still free. But with the very little interest you get on cd's ect with your money on deposit in these banks. It make my checking account not so free!
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:00 PM
Location: Sarasota FL
6,845 posts, read 9,199,906 times
Reputation: 6555
Suntrust used Harland as their check supplier. The order use to include 3 books of 50 checks. They switched to Delux. I ordered checks a few weeks ago and the order included only 2 books of 60. 30 checks less but the same price. [like Tropicana going from half gal to 59 oz]
I use to use a check to pay for groceries and was going to use the debit card instead to make up the difference of the missing 30 checks.
But now that it's going to cost $60 a year to use the debit card, I'll go back to using cash.
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:40 PM
836 posts, read 1,380,466 times
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One thing that I noticed is that Suntrust Bank seems to be everywhere in the area (kind of like how you can find a Publix grocery store in just about every area). When I lived just North of Downtown off of the Trail - there was a Suntrust just a few blocks away on the Trail. Now that I'm in Nokomis I have a choice of a Suntrust within a mile or 2 (either North or South of my location). I don't like the increase in fees - but I like the convenience and I'd probably spend the difference in gas banking somewhere else. Plus some other banks might have free checking for the time being - but there is no guarantee they won't start adding fees in the future. In addition I have automatic bill payments tied to my checking account and automatic payments deposited to my account by electronic funds transfer. So switching all of this would be a big hassle.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:53 PM
15,089 posts, read 30,936,675 times
Reputation: 18143
I love Suntrust and have had accounts with them for decades with great service and never a problem - more than I can say for other banks.

As long as the fees are reasonable I'll continue to keep my accounts with them. I too like how they have branches everywhere.
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Old 08-23-2011, 03:21 PM
836 posts, read 1,380,466 times
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This was front page news in the Herald-Tribune today: SunTrust adding $5 fee to use most of its debit cards | HeraldTribune.com
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