Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Why I Quit Chase For a Credit Union

A few months ago, I got a postcard from Chase Bank, offering me $100 to open an account with them.

I should know that nothing is for free, but this seemed like a good deal. I've been with credit unions for years (decades really) but perhaps it was time to give a bank a chance. Chase is really big, so it must be really efficient and therefore it would be cheaper for me, the customer. Right?


I went to their nearest branch to open an account. It took about 20 minutes, at the end of which I got an inch-thick pile of paper describing what I was signing for. A key point is that if I didn't use the account, they'd charge me money.
This is pretty remarkable. Most things, you get charged if you use them. But this bank account: I was going to get charge for not using? That's completely irrational, and not what I'd expected at all.
When I asked the clerk, he said he'd waive the fee for the first few months, until I got into using it. I should have walked away at that point, but I had put in the time so I signed on the line.

Mistake! The time you've put into a transaction is gone forever. It is no reason to continue a bad transaction.

Time goes by. I don't use the account. They ding me for not using it. I realise that I have a choice: drop the credit union, which works fine as is and use Chase a lot more, or drop Chase, suffering whatever financial consequences ensue. It's not really much of a choice; the credit unions have never screwed me.

Today I went to Chase to close the account. The nice clerk says, "You know there's a $25 fee for closing an account early, right?"

I should have said, "No, I don't know that. Is it in that inch of paper?" but I just wanted to get it done. I didn't think they were going to concede anything. Maybe I should have negotiated or made a stink, but I had every confidence that they had every term spelt out in black-and-white, somewhere in the pile of paper.

The bastards dinged me $25 twice: once for checking, once for savings. I guess they count those as separate account for purposes of taking money from their customers.

  1. Never use a bank. They exist to take your money. 
  2. Always use a credit union. They are owned by the depositors (which means you) so they don't rip you off. You can find one near you at
  3. No matter how smart you are or think you are, bankers are professionals and very, very good at what they do. They are better at it than you are, and you're a fool if you think otherwise. (You may have noticed that I just called myself a fool. Well, who knows better ;-)
  4. Always, always walk away from a transaction if someone springs something on you at the last minute, like the revelation they'll charge you if you don't use your account. If you are not ready to walk away, they have you.
  5. Write down your lessons. I should have learned all this stuff decades ago, but I forgot.

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