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Banking and Credit Card Fees Are Good For You

“Woah! What are you saying?” you must be saying to yourself. Do I really think that the $31 fee per overdraft charged by PNC Bank [3] is a good thing? What about the advice I gave about asking for a fee or charge by waived by a banking institution [4]? I don’t think it’s a good thing and I still do think you should ask to have fees nixed, but if you give me a chance to explain what the title means I promise it’ll be worth it.

If you read the story about “poor” Chris Keeley, you’ll learn something your parents tried to teach you when you were really young. I want to make the analogy of a horrible fee ($31/overdraft is excessive, so is allowing him to overdraft seven times) to a hot stove. When your mother says “Don’t touch that stove John/Jane, it’s hot and you’ll burn yourself,” you may or may not have listened. But if you touched it, you were burned, and you never touched the stove again. I think the same can be said for these ridiculous fees.

It’s been shown that Americans, in general, don’t save enough money, are up to their eyeballs in debt, and are generally financially irresponsible. I feel that these high fees and penalty charges is nature’s way of teaching you that you shouldn’t touch the hot stove and that you shouldn’t eat so many Big Macs [5].

Here are a few examples of what I mean:
Overdraft Charges: Listen… Keeley should have known how much was left in his account and he shouldn’t have used the debit card in the first place! Why not use a credit card and at least get a piddly 1% reward for it? You get no advantage from a debit card. But let’s extend Overdraft Charges to include Over-The-Limit Charges too. You should know roughly how much credit card debt is on each card – or you have too many cards or have overspent. It’s as simple as that.
High Finance Charges for Cash Advances: Every credit I know of charges you for taking out cash with your credit card. The answer? Don’t use your credit card for cash advances!
ATM Charges: Are you telling me you can’t plan far enough ahead to hit up an ATM with your bank’s name on it? If you have a major bank, you have ZERO excuses. If you have a smaller bank, you at least can lean on the fact that there are fewer ATMs but you still can probably plan your finances enough in advance to visit your ATMs!
Late Payment: Now, some banks are insidious and they change the date due each month. But for those of you without that excuse, how could you not pay your bill on time???

Of course, as I mentioned in the Late Payment example, some banks are evil cheats [6] who are trying to scam you. When it comes to those banks, just cancel your card and get another one… let your business do the talking. I think people need to show some financial responsibility and instead of the media babying folks like Keeley, they should educate their readership and explain that he brought it upon himself. Quit using kid gloves on adults when it comes to finances and maybe they’ll grow up!

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m a lunatic? Let me know!