Edit: I thought Umpqua only had two branches. That is beyond not true. My new bank has WAY more than two branches. They’re all over Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Northern California. Check it out for yourself: http://www.umpquabank.com/locator/new/ Ok, carry on with the post. 🙂
I am now a member at Umpqua Bank, “the greatest bank in the world”. And I have to say, they’re pretty cool. Here’s how it happened:
The regular readers here know I’ve been on a quest since September of 2011 to find a new place to move my banking. At first it was about our “too big to fail” banks and their attitudes around customer service, fee rollouts, etc. I decided to move out of Wells Fargo. It was a difficult choice in a way, because my family banked at Wells for years when I was a kid, and they have branches everywhere I have people.
But I have been learning that where you have your money matters ethically, even if you don’t have much.
I started by looking to join a credit union. Boy did that backfire on me. None of the credit unions wanted me. Once because my credit score wasn’t high enough (looking at you Salal, with your minimum 600 score requirement). Another time Chexsystems blocked me out.
So, after feeling like the school nerd trying in vain to get a date with the prom queen, I sucked it up again and started looking at local banks.
I got a message in my inbox from Wells Fargo the other day. Starting May 4th, transferring money back and forth between linked accounts will no longer be an easy way to waive their $10 monthly fee. Now you have to either have more money, or juggle things around like this:
“You can waive the current $10 monthly service fee when you have three additional linked accounts or services (such as a Wells Fargo debit card, savings account, online banking or direct deposit) and one
of the following:
- Maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance, OR
- Maintain a qualifying monthly direct deposit of $500 or more1, OR
- Maintain a monthly automatic loan payment from this Package checking account to a Wells Fargo home equity/personal loan or line of credit, or Wells Fargo Home Mortgage® loan” (Source: my Wells Fargo message inbox)
I’m not staying. As soon as my May “Qualifying Direct Deposit” (SSDI) drops in, I’ll be closing my Wells account for good. Of course, there’s another big reason to get out that I just found out about last week.
Wells Fargo is the second largest stockholder in a private prison company called GEO Group. Now, full disclosure, I worked for six months at a private juvenile prison in Missouri. Even though they pretended to care about the kids and rehabilitating, it was still an awful place. And the private adult prisons are worse.
So next week I better go back up to BECU again and see if they’ll let me open an account. Because it’s not just about the fees. I could waive those with my direct deposit. I cannot let my money support private prisons, especially since I know better.
If you want to read the full fee message, it’s below the fold. I’ve included for an FYI, and because I know there are other folks like me who skim stuff and throw it out. This one’s important. Thanks to the customer service folks who put it back for me. 🙂
Well THAT didn’t last very long. According to this article from the San Fransisco Business Times the bank started their test run on October 14th of this year. On October 28th, a WF spokesperson announced that they were cancelling the test run in response to “customer feedback”.
Hmm….could that feedback have been thousands of people moving their money out to credit unions and local banks? For everyone who was able to do that, great job making your voice heard!!
Now it looks like Bank of America might be trying to find more ways to waive their $5 monthly fee for customers.
Looks like pressure is a good thing for these banks…if you’re moving your money, I’d say keep it up! I’ll be joining you as soon as my credit is good enough to do it.