Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert
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Three giant monster mega-banks have been singled out for gaming the system when it comes to NSF fees. Are you banking with any of these bad boys?
Pew Charitable Trust has identified Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo as the 3 banks that play dirty pool with your money.
What exactly are they doing? Well, they approve transactions when you have insufficient funds, and then use software to recalculate your transactions and reorder the way they clear your checks. Their goal is to figure out the exact order in which checks should be processed so they can generate the most bounced checks or bounced debit charges.
Here's how this plays out in real life: Let's say you had 6 items clear over a weekend. They could go chronologically and maybe only the last transaction would bounce. But instead they use their software and generally process the largest transactions first -- instead of in the order they came in. And just like that, they could generate as many as 5 overdraft charges!
It's despicable, disgusting, and reprehensible. What in the world happened to old timey decency in business? Capitalists who look at their customers' best interests first typically do the best.
Fortunately, I have some good news to report too. Several big banks do a good job cutting you a break on non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees, according to Pew. They include Ally Bank,Charles Schwab, OneWest Bank, and USAA Federal Savings Bank.
When it comes to banking, why not go with someone who wants to respect you rather than cheat you?
Meanwhile, I have 2 assignments for you.
- Keep good records. Track your balance at all times. They can't rip you off at $35 a pop if you do your part and know you're good for the dough *before* making a purchase.
- Know that it is not a matter of if, but when, a big bank will take advantage of you. Go find another place while the getting is good. Look at small local community banks or credit union as your best option.
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