Penalizing the Poor 3

Chat Window

Bright Banking from BB TIf I were to say that I have had a bad history with banks and their fees, I would be putting it mildly. Very, very mildly. So I’ve switched banks several times in the past few years. I thought I had a good thing with my latest bank until this month, with no notice, they started a thing where they do fees for any customer who doesn’t meet certain (arbitrary) standards. If a customer doesn’t have at least $500 each month in direct deposits, an average checking balance of $1500, $6000 in combined deposit balances of different types of accounts, or an outstanding BB&T personal mortgage loan with them, they charge a $10 fee. Now, $10 might not seem like a lot, but when you are only receiving $493.31 a month, $10 is a big deal.

BB&T isn’t the only bank doing this whole you-get-under-$500-per-month-so-we’re-going-to-charge you a fee thing. Most banks that I’ve looked at have it. I understand that they think that this is a good way to make money for the banks. They went through a lot with their bad decisions that helped lead to the economy going down the crapper, but what they’re doing is essentially a fine for people with lower incomes. Of course, that’s always been an issue with banks. Fees have historically been geared toward penalizing people in lower income brackets for being in those brackets–as if we’re choosing not to be better off.

To me, if they were going off income, it would seem more logical to demand the fees from people who actually have more money.  It’s kind of like conditioner. When you get to the bottom of the conditioner bottle, you can put water in to get the rest out, but you know that it isn’t going to be as good for your hair as the unadulterated conditioner. Basically, by getting their money from people who have very little of it to start with, they are getting the watery conditioner. Using that conditioner might be okay for their hair (business) right now, but eventually, it will run out and they will have to look for money elsewhere.

Senior Checking from BB TWhat’s absolutely ridiculous to me is that while I’m on a fixed income because of disability and cannot get the fee waived, BB&T actually has a  system set up for seniors that I think should apply to all people on a fixed income. Seniors (62 and up) only have to get $100 in direct deposits each month to waive the fee.  If they can do it for one group, surely they can do it for another.

What I love is that when I pointed out how unfair this system is to “Ciera”, she acted like it was just the way that I was perceiving things. No, darling, the system is unfair. It isn’t me imagining that I have to pay more in fees because I’m poor. It is how things work in this country.

Maybe it seems like I’m being unrealistic or acting spoiled, but it is wrong that banks and other institutions think that it is okay to tell people who are already in a disadvantaged population (whether it is from age, health, being unemployed, etc.) that they’re going to be yet another institution that will be taking advantage of them. It’s as if they don’t realize just how difficult things are for the poor, and how each of these little fees that they charge makes life that much harder on people who already have a hard enough time as it is.



About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.

3 thoughts on “Penalizing the Poor

  • Jenn

    I agree with you that the fee thing is most definitely ridiculous. I feel bad for the woman you spoke to, since I’m sure she wasn’t expecting your question, BUT you raise a very valid point. Just as many seniors are on fixed incomes (then again there are some that are positively rolling in the dough – my best’s friends parents and my husband’s aunt included), so are people on disability — and even low-income people who need every spare dollar they’ve got (honestly, we’ve had weeks where $6 was the difference between having enough grocery money for milk AND butter AND cheese, or having to choose just one of the three).

    With that said, have you checked with PNC? We have a “Foundations” checking account… there are limitations such as not being able to spend more than $100.00 per debit card per day (or take out more than $100.00 from an ATM per day), but on the bright side, there are NO fees, except for overdraft fees. There isn’t a minimum account balance requirement, either.

    It does seem like, more often than not, the financially disadvantaged are the ones who wind up paying the most, even though they are the ones who can ill-afford to, for various products and services.

    • Janet
      Post author

      I actually felt bad for her as well. It’s an unfair position that she was put in.

      I looked at a few of the PNC things. I’ll have to check into the Foundations thing. They recently bought out the bank that bought out the first bank that I ever used, so I might switch to them.

  • Marie

    I have that Foundations account, but I do get charged a fee each month for not having an balance of $500 for the entire month.



    I know there are some banks out there that don’t charge a monthly fee if you get direct deposit.

    Bank of America: No monthly maintenance fee when you set up at least one qualifying direct deposit of $250 or more monthly or maintain an average daily balance of $1,500 or more. Otherwise, $12 monthly maintenance fee.

    I left them since one of my previous employer refused to let me do direct deposit. I left them for Wells Fargo.

    Wells Fargo: The monthly service fee is waived on your Wells Fargo Value Checking account with one of the following:

    $1,500 minimum daily balance, or
    Qualifying direct deposits1 totaling $500 or more each statement cycle

    Otherwise, this account is $7 per month with online only statements ($9 with paper statements).

    Ouch, I guess either they changed their policy or its different where I used to live. I was able to avoid their fee since I picked up a 2nd job in which DID allow me to do direct deposit.

    Later on, I ended up having to move (thus having to quit that job) and ended up staying unemployed. Whatever money I had left in that account, I took out and opened up a new account with a local small bank. I only paid a $3.95 monthly fee. Your best bet might be to go with a locally owned bank or if you want: Bank of America.

Comments are closed.