The term “Friendly Neighborhood Banker” will no longer apply to Wells Fargo Bank. The large financial institution has announced that it is joining other banks and ending free checking. Instead there will be a $7.00 monthly fee, or $84.00 per year on checking accounts.
The change comes as the San Francisco bank finishes its year-long process of switching customers who opened free checking accounts with Wachovia to a new fee-eligible account. The fee for North and
customers will be effective Aug. 7 and show up in statements in September. South Carolina
Maryland and are also affected by the
final wave. Washington
But wait, isn’t there a way to avoid the fees. Well of course.
The fee goes down to $5 if customers forego paper statements. Customers can avoid the fee altogether by maintaining a balance of $1,500 or having monthly direct deposits of more than $500.
So the fee will only hit people who don’t have direct deposit of payroll or social security, or who are so poor they cannot maintain a balance of $1,500.00 And for these people $84.00 a year is important. A loss of that amount while insignificant to most of us means less money to spend on food or health care for the people who will be assessed the fee.
But that’s okay too, after all big banks have an obligation to make plenty of money, and if poor people suffer a little, well then they shouldn’t be poor, should they. But with all the exemptions the new fees probably won’t raise very much money for Wells Fargo. But it will send a message to low income people, that message being ‘You are not wanted at Wells Fargo’. Of course, they probably already know that.