Banks penalizing us for their idea … geez!

October 2, 2011

COLUMNS

One Sunday morning, I opened my paper to find that my bank was instituting monthly debit card fees. What!?! Don’t they make enough off us?

A new law caps the charges on debit fees. This is in recognition of the change in our system of exchange. I rarely have cash in my pocket anymore. Who needs it? I swipe my card for everything from furniture to packs of gum. Even country stores in the middle of nowhere have card machines that allow me to tap directly into my bank account by tapping in my PIN.

Banks convinced us to give up our checkbooks, and now they are penalizing us for using the piece of plastic issued by them. This conversion to plastic has hurt local retailers. Each time we use a piece of plastic (whether debit or credit), a bite is taken out of the purchase and given to a financial institution. Debit cards take less percentage-wise than credit cards. It’s the reason retailers put that box in front of us upon purchase.

The new $4 monthly charge would occur anytime we use our debit card to buy things. This wouldn’t apply to ATM withdrawals. If banks make a percentage of every purchase when plastic is used, why would they take a chance of losing those fees?

The answer lies in our behavior. Now that debit card fees are a reality, will I go back to cash or check? Probably not. I’m not even sure where my checkbook is, and cash is not convenient or safe. Plastic has just been so easy. Chances are most people will simply swap over to credit card usage, and voila, more fees for them!

But I’ve got news for them! With a bank on every physical corner and every cybercorner, I don’t have to take this. Yes, banks have the right to raise their fees in response to law changes, but I have the right to shop around for a better deal. And you can just take that one to the bank!

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