Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Citibank's Promise of Free Checking

What does it mean to be free? When many of us open up a new checking account, it is with the intention of doing business with that bank for a period of time. After all, I've not got my online banking set up to send up bill payments. I've ordered printed checks for when I need them. I've got my debit card. It is a hassle to switch banks and have to redo all this. So, it is important that banks disclose account fees at the outset.

So might have believed customers over at Citibank who opened checking accounts advertised as free. Despite the free-hook, Citibank announced that it would begin imposing account fees on these same customers. Apparently about 1 million free accounts were included. The Truth In Savings Act requires banks to disclose account fees. So, free means free. Moreover, one might expect the free status to last for some time. Not surprisingly then, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office complained about the Citibank fee increase. Today, Citibank announced that free will remain free, putting aside overdraft and other fees, for the time being. (See Citibank to Keep Free Checking).


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