They say that Internet banking is the wave of the future, but, as many consumers are discovering, it isn’t all that great. Because Internet banks are often on shaky financial ground, their fees for normally free services are astounding. What your average brick-and-mortar bank would do for free might cost you hundreds of dollars each year in Internet banking. Add that to poor (or nonexistent) customer service, long wait times for deposited checks and no person to whom you can complain, Internet banking might not be around much longer. Are you being overcharged for Internet banking?
Most Internet banks encourage their customers to contact them via e-mail or online forms, but for the most part, Internet correspondence is like its own black hole. According to BankRate.com, hundreds of customers have complained that their online banking services take up to two weeks to respond to e-mail queries, which is unacceptable when you have a serious matter to discuss. Unfortunately, however, many Internet banks charge for phone calls because they can’t financially handle their incoming lines. Some customers are charged simply for calling to check their balances while the Internet service is down.
Some brick-and-mortar banks charge for paper statements, but it’s hardly the norm. Internet banks, on the other hand, feel that everything should be handled digitally, so if you want to get your statements in the mail, you’ll have to pay a fee, sometimes as much as $3 for each statement. As mentioned above, Internet banks are often financially unstable, and paying thousands of dollars in postage isn’t something they really want to do. The problem is that the smart consumer will always request a paper statement to verify what they find online.
Some consumers have Internet banking in addition to accounts at “regular” banks, but BankRate.com says that this could be a huge mistake. If you don’t use your online banking regularly, you could be charged an inactivity fee, sometimes as much as $35 per month. They have requirements for how many deposits and withdrawals must be made, and who wants to keep track of that?
Failing to Use Online Bill Pay
Similar to the inactivity fee, if you sign up for online bill pay and don’t use it, you can be charged another inactivity fee. Again, this might be up to $35, and doesn’t make much sense since your inactivity doesn’t cost the bank any money at all.
I hate it when I can’t find a Bank of America ATM, especially since you can usually find hundreds when you don’t need it. No one likes to pay $1.75 to use an ATM, but if you use Internet banking you’ll have no choice. Since they don’t have physical locations and rarely (if ever) have ATM’s for their business, you’re going to have to pay a fee every time you want to make a cash withdrawal from your account.
Account Closure Fees
This is one I couldn’t believe, though I checked with six different source and verified it each time. Most Internet banking websites charge you a fee to close your account. This means that if you are dissatisfied with all of the above, they’re going to gouge you one last time.