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Why This Loyal Customer Is Leaving Chase

Chase Bank building schematicIt took an awful lot to come to this: I’m withdrawing my money, closing my accounts and taking my business elsewhere.

I’ve held the same checking account for about 20 years, even though it has changed hands over and over again. First it was Pelican Bank. Then it was First NBC, then BankOne and, finally, Chase Bank.

Through all this consolidation, I’ve kept the same 10-digit account number.

I’m just a loyal kind of guy who easily falls into routines.

But after years of fighting Chase on its nickel-and-dime fees, the big bank’s latest blow against me was its last.

In February, I was nailed with a $12 fee.

When I called to complain, the bank said it charged me because I failed to maintain a $5,000 balance for the month.

It’s apparently a new requirement because I’ve never kept anywhere near $5,000 in my checking account.

In the past, I’ve been charged $2 monthly check-imaging fees and fees for withdrawing money at a non-Chase ATM. I’ve rationalized it’s OK to spend a few bucks in fees because Chase has an excellent website and mobile banking capabilities.

But nearing $20 per month, or $240 per year, to keep my money there is too much.

High fees already drove me to move an IRA and another savings account from Chase a few years ago.

When I leave, where should I go?

In theory, I like the idea of working with a small, locally owned bank. Unfortunately, the institutions near where I live are woefully behind on banking technology.

At the small bank where we have our mortgage, we can’t pay online. I actually have to walk into the bank with a check every month like it’s 1982.

I complete work for dozens of companies over the course of a year, so I’m regularly receiving paper checks in the mail.

I don’t have time to constantly shuttle back and forth to a bank branch. I need robust online banking and the ability to make deposits from my home office.

After examining my options, I decided to go with a Cash Management Account at Fidelity. It has zero fees, no minimum balance and gives me lots of extra benefits.

I also get helpful online account management and an app that lets me deposit checks with my iPhone. Funds are available instantly, and I can also easily move money between my Fidelity checking and brokerage accounts.

I also can get a no-fee Amex card that nets me unlimited 2% cash back on purchases.

As soon as my direct deposits are in place with Fidelity, I’m walking into Chase and closing my accounts for good.

Chase noted in 2012 that it was going to focus on wealthier clients that were worth at least $100,000. Apparently, those of us who kept less than $100,000 at the bank – 70% of the bank’s customer base – just weren’t profitable enough.

So maybe I don’t keep that much there now. I’m just a 37-year-old, middle-class guy.

But my business and nest egg are growing every day. Perhaps I would eventually move my retirement accounts there.

Within time, I will be a $250,000, $500,000 or $1 million customer.

You would think they’d want to cultivate a long-term relationship.

But Chase has made its intentions clear. Now, so have I.

Follow Craig Guillot on Google Plus.

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  1. A.Bundy said:
    on April 5th at 12:30 am

    welcome to the club! i’ve been screwed over by every large “too big to fail” bank that i had an account with. citibank even stole my money by lying that they never deposited my check even though i had a slip. it was $200! the manager even snuck out through the back and went home after i approached him with the situation. now, i just rotate my money from bank to bank…whomever pays the best interest. now its time i move my cash to doral bank. their 1.65% 3yr CD seems awfully nice. loyalty is measured in $ and interest rates. thats all i care about. i could care less about the bank.