13 Things Your Bank Won’t Tell You

Get smarter about banking with tips from the financial services industry.

[step-item number=”1.” image_url=”” title=”It takes us three days to post checks to your account.” ]Just because you deposited a check today doesn’t mean you can start living it up tomorrow. (And why should we hurry? If you bounce a check, we collect around $30.) [/step-item]

[step-item number=”2.” image_url=”” title=”Not everyone is allowed to do a teller’s job.” ] Yes, we know the line is long and only one teller window is open, but no, the guy in the cubicle can’t come over to help out.  [/step-item]

[step-item number=”3.” image_url=”” title=”Call or visit in person to resolve a problem.” ] Filling out online forms will usually get you the by-the-book reply, but a rep will often forgive a fee over the phone so we can all just get on with our lives. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”4.” image_url=”” title=”Small business loans are hard to get.” ] Unless you’re Wolfgang Puck, our loan officers have pretty much decided before you walk in that you’re not getting a loan for your dream bistro. But they’ll let you apply for one anyway. We’re not crazy about lending to nonprofits and houses of worship either. We don’t want the bad publicity when we go after them. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”5.” image_url=”” title=”Our tellers routinely press you into opening new accounts.” ] Their jobs depend on it. Banks hire “mystery” customers who secretly test whether a teller is cross-selling services. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”6.” image_url=”” title=”Don’t blame us. ” ] It’s not our fault you can’t control your spending. “The bank didn’t make you swipe your card or write a check that you didn’t have money for,” says one teller in Akron, Ohio. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”7.” image_url=”” title=”If the check bounces, you’re liable.” ] Postdating a check rarely works. With stacks of deposits to process, we look at account names, not dates.  [/step-item]

[step-item number=”8.” image_url=”” title=”Please don’t haul in plastic bags of loose change.” ] We really don’t have the time or manpower to count it. Ask for free wrappers and bring in rolled coins next time. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”9.” image_url=”” title=”Keep receipts for every ATM transaction.” ] And please don’t feed cash directly into the machine without first putting it into an envelope (yes, people actually do this). [/step-item]

[step-item number=”10.” image_url=”” title=”We know you hate itemized penalties.” ] A consumer’s brain registers an immediate “Ouch!” whenever he’s hit with an itemized penalty, such as a bounced-check fee, so most people keep a much higher balance in their checking accounts than necessary, says personal-finance writer Jason Zweig. “Banks make a ton of money off this mental quirk since they would have to pay interest on the money if we left it in our savings accounts, where it belongs.” [/step-item]

[step-item number=”11.” image_url=”” title=”Banks don’t always promote their highest interest rate accounts.” ] Why tell you about those when you’re already willing to sign up for an account that pays less? [/step-item]

[step-item number=”12.” image_url=”” title=”A bank has the right to pay itself back.” ] Any fees or overdraft loans that you owe can be deducted from your next deposit. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”13.” image_url=”” title=”Free toasters are a thing of the past.” ] Sorry, we can’t afford to give them anymore to new customers. Business is brutal. [/step-item]

Sources: David Bach, author of Fight for Your Money (spring 2009); Jason Zweig, author of Your Money & Your Brain (2007); Jean Ann Fox, director of financial services, Consumer Federation of America; anonymous bank employees in New York, Ohio, and Texas


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