We’re all used to trying to dodge extra fees that our banks keep throwing at us, but avoiding this latest charge could change way we go banking in the future. An increasing number of banks are now charging us for face to face contact with a teller – face time – something which used to be part of the service.
By choosing an internet-only account, you can forfeit the more personal touch and save money. And it’s catching on, with Capital One 360, Pittsburgh-based PNC and Bank of America all offering options where banking in branch could cost you a monthly fee.
Maybe you’re a customer who rarely goes into the branch anyway, preferring instead to do your banking in the comfort of your own home, and having the confidence to manage your own matters without too much in the way of support. This may sound like the ideal option for you; why pay a monthly fee when you’re not utilizing the service?
Then again, maybe you’re not confident banking online, and would rather stick with the more traditional method of going into the bank and letting someone else take care of it for you. Maybe issues around security put you off online banking, or you think you’ll need help with some of the more complicated aspects of your account. Well, you’re not alone on that, but is it worth paying as much as $8.95 a month extra just to keep things as they are?
Though there are understandable concerns about a possible dearth of free face-to-face support going forward, it does seems that our needs for in-branch interaction are subsiding somewhat. Our lives seem to be busier, and we sometimes simply don’t have the time to get to the bank during working hours. Those of us that have the means and the inclination to go online are finding this fits in with our lifestyle. And with 2,164 branch closures against just 1,107 openings in the year up to the end of March, it’s just as well. Only five states saw more branch openings than closures.
As the number of bank branches in the US dwindles, and those that remain look poised to charge us to walk through the door, it looks like we might have a decision to make either way. Forego the personal touch and take the branchless option (hoping that we don’t need any help along the way) or swallow the monthly charge to keep the status quo. Change your habits or pay. As Neil Weinberg, editor of the American Banker says, “there’s a tremendous amount of resistance among consumers trying to pay for something that was previously free”. I can’t say I’m surprised.