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A New Low: Banks Charging Fees to Close Your Checking Account

Adam Rust's picture

Posted February 9, 2012

Several banks have found a new way to short their customers. They are going to charge you to stop using their services.

Not every bank has made this step, but several have and their fees range from $10 to as high as $25. The minimum time

to keep the account open falls between 90 days and six months.

SunTrust Bank says it will charge customers $25 if they do not keep a checking account for six months. While theirs is the highest fee and the one with the longest minimum, SunTrust is just one of about eight banks that are going to start the service, according to the Boston Globe. The Pew Research Center says that six of the nation's ten largest banks now charge a fee to close an account that is held open for less than a specific period of time. I spoke with an account representative at SunTrust. She did not know there there was such a fee. However, she said that SunTrust would impose a $7 fee for any account where the balance fell below a minimum $500 over the course of a month. The fee could be avoided if you set up direct deposit. One takeaway from this situation is that both Pew and the Boston Globe are wrong, or the people at SunTrust are not trained to tell people the basic terms of their accounts.

PNC does disclose their early closure fee. PNC will charge you $25 on your way out the door if you do not keep your account open for at least 180 days. That rule applies to checking, savings, and money market accounts.

Banks have upped fees across the board in the last year. The banks claim that the government is making them do it, thanks to rules in Durbin that lower the revenue they can derive from interchange. The fee ceilings have dropped the cost imposed on retailers to less than about 30 cents per transaction.

However, if you accept the logic that operating an account is suddenly less profitable on a per-transaction basis, it still does not justify a fee for closing an account. After all, by their own rationale, the closure of an account means that the banks have suddenly been relieved of an account that may not be profitable. Moreover, one of the banks that the Boston Globe says is going to charge an early closure fee is not subject to Durbin. Salern Five has assets of $2.9 billion. Since this is less than the $10 billion cut off for the new interchange rule, Salern Five cannot even claim to be a victim.