I’ve been hearing from a lot of people that their bank has recently started charging account fees, and now it has happened to me. I have a small account with the State Employees Credit Union from my home state. I’ve always used that money as my really, really bad emergency fund. It wasn’t much, but it was inaccessible (good for me) and the interest rates were good.
When my husband was deployed a few years back, I scrounged up every cent I could find to put in his Savings Deposit Program (SDP) account. I took nearly all of the money out of my not-so-secret stash and left just a little bit of money in there to keep the account active. I recently decided to use that account for a particular savings goal and was shocked to discover that the account was closed and it had a negative balance. It seems that the terms of the account changed at the new year, and there was a quarterly fee for having less than $250 in the account. Two quarterly fees later, the account was in the negative and was automatically closed. It seems that the information was included in my electronic account statements, but I hadn’t been opening them because I thought there was no activity on the account.
The current economy is making it hard for banks to thrive without fees, and even the most consumer friendly banks and credit unions are being forced to cut benefits and raise costs for their customers. That isn’t the end of the world, as long as you’ve chosen the right bank for your situation, but you aren’t making a good decision if the terms of the account have changed and you didn’t know it. Read your monthly statements. Open your mail, and your email. When you see something odd on your statement, ask and find out what is going on.