Big banks, big fees – not here


Big banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase have either started charging their customers monthly fees to use their debit cards for purchases or are in the testing phases of such. Bank of America is set to charge its customers a $5 monthly fee, according to recent articles in the New York Times and USA Today. Wells Fargo and Chase are testing $3 monthly debit card fees.  Regional banks such as Regional Financial and SunTrust are looking at $4 and $5 monthly debit card fees, respectively.

This new round of debit card fee changes are the result of the Durbin amendment, a critical part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law and is making for hot news across the country. This amendment essentially caps fees that can be charged to a merchant for accepting debit card transactions at the point-of-sale.  As merchants are forced to pay more fees in order to accept debit card transactions at the point-of-sale (i.e., when you type in your PIN), they may try to influence the way in which you conduct your transaction (“Would that be debit or credit? Press X for credit or hit the Y button and type in your PIN.”) How you decide to route your transaction (typing in your PIN or selecting credit) determines behind-the-scenes costs for the merchant. Merchants are charged fees by their financial institution. Banks make money from those merchants from the way in which debit card transactions are routed (determined by your selecting “credit” or typing in your PIN). Those behind-the-scenes costs translate into fees passed on to the consumer (you) so that big banks can make big money (hence those fees mentioned above).

You, as the consumer, have the right to decide how you want your transaction routed when using your debit card. If a merchant attempts to charge you a fee for using your debit card or denies you from using your card based on a specific dollar amount minimum, you need to bring it to someone’s attention wherever you currently do your “banking”. If you are a member of our Credit Union, we encourage you to report this to our Card Services Group.

Our Debit Card Pays You! Our Debit Card offers an exclusive nationally recognized “Swipe 5” benefit. We pay you to use our debit card! For every qualified transaction, you earn 5 cents and receive a monthly rebate based on the total number of qualified transactions. A qualified transaction is one in which you select CREDIT at the point-of-sale and isn’t an ATM or PIN-based transaction. By selecting credit, you benefit from not only earning 5-cents per qualified transaction, but also don’t lose the right of dispute or chargeback in the event there is some sort of problem down the road. You also are protected from fraud when you use your card as “credit” (you are not protected on “debit”/PIN-based transactions).

Our paying you to use our Debit Card is just one of the ways that make credit unions, particularly Members 1st Federal Credit Union, stand out from the pack. If you’re not a member of a credit union, now is a really good time to consider it.

Get your Members 1st Debit Card today and as an added feature, we also offer personalized debit cards. Say goodbye to big banks and big fees and make the switch to a credit union today.

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