Community Banks and Credit Unions Catch a Break With Bank Fees

It has been all over the news for weeks and people everywhere are getting fired-up about it. Even President Obama recently aired his complaints to ABC News, saying it was unfair to customers.

That’s right – we’re talking about bank fees.

So what’s up with these bank fees and why are banks charging them to customers? It’s simple economics, really.

Banks profit by loaning consumers and businesses money. But with the present low interest rates, banks must charge lower rates on loans and therefore, they make less money. Additionally, new federal regulations have forced banks to change their fee structure on overdraft charges and late payments on credit cards.

They have to make up that shortfall somewhere, so they turn to charging customers various new fees. And because interest rates are expected to stay low for some time, you can expect these fees to hang around for the foreseeable future.

According to a recent Associated Press article, here are some of the fees the big banks will soon unveil:

• Bank of America plans to introduce a $5/month fee for making debit card purchases.
• Beginning in December, Citi will charge $20/month to some customers who carry a balance of less than $15,000 on their combined accounts.
• Last week, Wells Fargo began charging $3/month for debit cards in five states.
• Earlier this year, JPMorgan Chase began charging a $3/month debit card fee in Wisconsin and Georgia.
• In June, SunTrust Banks of Georgia introduced a $5/month debit card fee for customers with basic checking accounts.
• Earlier this month, Regions Financial Corp. of Alabama began charging customers a $4/month fee for debit cards.

But all of this bad news could be a huge break for community banks and regional credit unions, who are largely unaffected by many of the new regulations. Big banking customers are angry – and getting angrier – and the environment is perfect for smaller banks to compete!

As fees increase, customers begin to consider their options. Now is the time for community banks and credit unions to get aggressive and market themselves as a viable alternative.

If your bank hasn’t done so already, launch an advertising campaign promoting your “fee free” offerings. Run newspaper ads, e-campaigns and post on social media sites what your bank or credit union has to offer that the big banks do not – mainly, free checking and debit cards!