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More Fee Fiddling For Chase Customers

Big bank drops two account experiments in Atlanta, OklahomaJPMorgan Chase is putting a stop to more fee experiments, this time changing its checking account choices in two test markets.

In February, Chase rolled out its Chase Total Checking account in all but two markets: Oklahoma and Atlanta.

Now the unpopular checking account choices in those areas will be abandoned next week, a person familiar with the New York-based bank’s plans says.

In Oklahoma, the bank had been offering a basic checking account with a $10 monthly fee and no way to get it waived.

In Atlanta, the bank had been testing a basic checking account with a $15 monthly fee, which could be waived if a customer kept $1,500 in his or her checking account or had $5,000 in deposit and investment accounts.

It seems customers didn’t exactly flock to either option.

So now Chase will begin offering Total Checking in those two markets, just as it has everywhere else in the nation.

This is a qualified victory for savers, because Total Checking isn’t automatically free checking.

Although the Total Checking account charges a $12-a-month fee, keeping $1,500 in the account, having $5,000 in deposit and investment accounts, or setting up a $500 direct deposit each month lets customers avoid the fee.

Because customers in Oklahoma and Atlanta chose their account options from several Chase choices, fees won’t be refunded. And they can keep their existing accounts if they prefer. But no new customers will be allowed to sign up for those accounts.

It’s the second time in just weeks that Chase has tinkered with its fees.

Earlier this year, it began testing a $3 monthly fee for debit card usage for customers in northern Wisconsin and Georgia.

The test offered an al a carte menu of services, including paying for debit card usage and paying $5 monthly for online bill pay. That pilot program expired this month.

It was another case where the Total Checking account, which doesn’t directly charge for debit cards and online bill pay, trumped the tests.

If the changes aren’t enough to lure customers, through Nov. 26 a customer who opens a Chase Total Checking account in most of the country with a $100 minimum deposit and sets up a $500-per-month direct deposit can receive a $125 cash bonus.

The offer isn’t available to existing checking account holders.

Residents of Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and West Virginia can open any type of checking account to get the cash bonus.

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  1. pieinsky said:
    on November 22nd at 11:12 am

    I suspect fiddling will go on ad infinitum as banks scratch and claw for every available dollar. Try it, drop it, try something else. Guess we’ll all have to pay much closer attention to the fine print.