Friday, March 25, 2011

Good bye to free checking accounts?

Last year Congress added an amendment to the financial reform bill that would reduce the amount of interchange fees merchants have to pay financial institutions to process debit card transactions.  What this amounts to is a transfer of wealth from the financial institutions [banks, ect] to the merchants [Wal-mart, Target, ect].

Even though the reasoning behind the amendment to have the merchants reduce prices on the merchandise they sell because their interchange expense would be reduced the likelyhood that this will actually occur will be minimal, at best.

The financial institutions will be collecting less in fees from these merchants making checking accounts less profitable.  So how are financial institutions going to make up this income shortfall?  Easy...start adding fees and restrictions to checking accounts.  So the transfer of wealth will ultimately be from us, the consumer, to the merchants. 

Yes, you might be able to find free checking accounts if you look hard enough.  So a total extinction of free checking accounts, like the total extinction of the fabulous hooked billed Dodo bird is probably not going to happen.  But I'd bet that in a lot of cases your bank will no longer offer a truely free checking account, an account without fees or restrictions.

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