By Christina Fermin
Politics & Society Columnist
The recent announcement of big banks getting rid of free checking for customers has angered many consumers. The top 4 largest banks: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, CitiBank & Wellsfargo do not offer free checking without meeting some requirements. It amazes me that these banks, considered too big to fail, are charging their customers access to their own money. All of these banks are now charging minimum account fees, debit card fees and charging per withdrawal (on top of the ATM fee). Many customers are left to either take it, attempt to meet their “requirements” to qualify for free checking or move their money. What do we do?
Move Your Money. Cash, credit union or local bank, prepaid card, in that order.
If you are banking with any one of those financial institutions that I mentioned above, or with a bank that will soon be imposing those fees upon you. Move your money, that is your power as a consumer! I know it is a pain, I know there is not enough time in day, and I know you are busy, because that is exactly how I feel when having to deal with these things, but trust me, you will be happier that you did it and you will be saving loads of money. The smartest thing you could do is move your money to a local bank or credit union. Many of these banks partner up with institutions outside their states or counties, so when you are out of town you still have access to your money. I personally have switched to a credit union and may I say that the customer service it better, the fees are better and the online banking features are as good as any other.
There are some horror stories out there, that is why you must do your research. You don’t have to go as far as visiting every bank, a simple online search will give you access to their sites, products and what they have to offer. Not to mention customer reviews and issues. Then you have the option of going with a prepaid card, but if you are always going to be loading it up, you are better off going with a local bank or credit union. Prepaid cards are great to use for online shopping or if you use it sometimes, but if you are a regular at pulling out the plastic, may as well go with a banking institution. Prepaid cards sometimes have loading fees, monthly fees, transaction fees and many other hidden fees. There are a few who are direct, but again, caution and research is needed when delving in the world of prepaid cards.
These ‘too big to fail’ banks are not places you want your money. Many of these banks finance abhorrent behavior, make risky investments and invest in far away places. At least with local banks and credit unions, you have the comfort of knowing your money is being invested in the community, local businesses and not leaving the state or regional area. Last year Wachovia (now Wellsfargo) got into trouble when it was discovered that they were involved in laundering Mexican drug money. All four banks listed above are known for fundingmountain top removal mining, a horrific procedure that destroys the environment, communities, families and does untold amounts of damage that will not be known for decades to come. Is this the type of behavior you want your hard earned dollars flowing into? The real question is, what are you waiting for?
One way to boost your local economy and give opportunities to new business and entrepreneurs is through switching your money into a local bank or credit union, this will allow more cash available so that these local institutions could invest into the local economy, which in turns helps small businesses and new businesses. Banks like Bank of America, Chase, Wellsfargo and Citi are rarely investing in your community and small businesses. These same banks are directly or indirectly related to causing the global financial meltdown in 2008 and are also very much involved in lobbying our congress people to vote in their best interests and against ours, another reason why you would want to get your money out. When in doubt, use cash, but in today’s day and age, I know that it can be difficult. Cash, credit union or local bank, prepaid card, in that order. Make your voice heard, let these banks know why you will no longer accept their behavior and make that switch today, after all it’s your money!
Peace & Harmony,
About the Columnist
With a bachelors degree in political science from Florida Atlantic University, Christina Fermin has always cultivated her love for history, politics, sociology, ancient knowledge and teachings, the outdoors, the ocean and the environment. Christina strives to make our world better by helping us all create a new reality and understanding of all taking place here and now.