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Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

banking - All posts tagged banking

  • Sep 29, 2011
    12:52 PM ET

    Will You Pay $5 to Use Your Debit Card?


    This post originally appeared on the Deal Journal blog on To read the original story click here.

    Well, at least banks have found fresh ways of making money, since that whole mortgages and loans thing isn’t working out so well.

    According to our Dow Jones Newswires colleague Andrew Johnson, BofA plans to charge customers a $5 monthly fee for making purchases with their debit cards.

    Remember that BofA and other big banks are trying to offset expected lost revenue now that the Fed has capped the fees they can charge for each debit card purchase.

  • Sep 29, 2011
    10:24 AM ET

    Better Than Checking? Try Savings Bonds


    Consumers tired of low-yielding checking or savings accounts might want to consider those sleepy savings bonds typically associated with birthday or high school graduation gifts. But to get the best deals on them, they’ll need to act fast.

    Series I savings bonds are currently yielding 4.6%, well above the 0.39% average rate for a one-year certificate of deposit and the 0.15% for savings accounts and money market deposit accounts, according to But that rate, which is based on inflation, will be reset on Nov. 1 and some analysts expect it to come down to about 3.3%. Investors who buy the bonds before Nov. 1 can still lock in the 4.6% rate for at least six months. (Series I savings bond rates also have a fixed-rate component that lasts throughout the 30-year life of the bond. The fixed rate is currently 0% and is expected to stay there.)

  • Sep 27, 2011
    11:33 AM ET

    Free Knicks Tickets, for a Spare $100K


    Last weekend, I walked into a nearby Chase branch in search of a higher interest rate on my savings account. No luck there, I was told. Rates were dismally low, but a customer service representative told me the bank had a new promotion: Did I have $100,000 to deposit into a savings account? If so, Chase will give me two free front-row tickets to attend a New York City-based sports match, musical or concert.

    It’s official: the era of freebies in exchange for opening up a bank account is over. Before the recession, banks gave iPods, toasters as well as cash to new customers – and that was in addition to interest rates of 4% or higher. In exchange, consumers had to deposit just a few hundred dollars into their account. Now, banks are looking for customers flush with cash and offering an incentive so small one wonders who would be attracted to it.

  • Aug 29, 2011
    11:33 AM ET

    Thanks, Irene! Banks Offer Temporary Fee Reprieve


    Irene did some serious destruction on her tour up the East Coast, but some banking customers won’t see extra damage in the form of account fees.

    Chase will waive select fees for account holders in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York — the three Irene-affected states where it has branches — through Sept. 4. Until then, those customers won’t be held liable for using another bank’s ATM ($2), overdrawing their checking account ($34 per transaction, up to three per day), using overdraft protection ($12), or paying late on a credit card, business or consumer loan. (On a credit card, that saves up to $35.)

    Wells Fargo will waive select fees for account holders in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York through Sept. 2. Consumers won’t pay for using another bank’s ATM ($3) or making an early withdrawal from a certificate of deposit (a minimum $25). A spokeswoman says customers with further hardship can call customer service for other assistance on a case-by-case basis.

  • Aug 2, 2011
    9:25 AM ET

    HSBC Customers: Welcome to First Niagara


    HSBC plans to sell 195 of its bank branches in upstate New York and Connecticut to First Niagara Financial Group as part of a $1 billion deal. If you’re a current HSBC customer in that region, it’s time to reassess the merits of your checking account.

    As part of the deal, First Niagara will acquire more than one million bank accounts and roughly 250,000 credit card accounts, says spokesman Jeff Schoenborn. HSBC and First Niagara will be reaching out to affected accountholders in coming days, but say it’s business as usual until the transaction is completed, likely early next year. At that time, First Niagara will give customers new account numbers, as well as new check books, debit and credit cards. “Customers should expect a seamless transition,” says Robert Sherman, a spokesman for HSBC.

  • Jun 14, 2011
    3:47 PM ET

    Can You Ditch Your Checking Account?

    There’s not much difference between a prepaid card and a debit card — save prepaid cards’ reputation as a low-rent option for credit slackers. But now that a new card from American Express wipes out the fees that often plague both categories, it raises the question: Could a prepaid card replace your checking account?


    Like its competitors, the American Express prepaid card works anywhere a credit card does, limiting spending to the cash in your account. But it skips the fees most others charge, including $10 to $15 to set up the card and an ongoing $5 to $10 per month to use it. It also offers a few perks more often found on credit cards, like roadside assistance and theft protection on purchases. Even so, its usefulness may be limited depending on how you bank.

    If you’re already using a prepaid card, the new offering is a win, says Odysseas Papadimitriou, the chief executive of CardHub, a comparison site for credit and prepaid cards. The next-best cards in the category, Green Dot Prepaid Visa and Capital One Prepaid, charge $5.95 and $4.95 per month, respectively. (Capital One waives that fee if you load more than $500 per month.) Going with the American Express card would save up to $72 per year.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.