Isn’t it ironic that Arizona Federal knocks Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo for $5 monthly debit card fees, which the banks announced in 2011 and quickly retracted in 2011, yet Arizona FCU instituted a $3 monthly fee simply for being a credit union member, even if one does not have a debit card? Why does Arizona Federal have this statement on their website about the banks having a $5 debit card fee when most of the banks cancelled that fee before it began? Is it an attempt for AZFCU to attempt to justify their wrongful $3 fee, not even for having an AZFCU debit card, but just for being a credit union member?
In addition, the page states the banks’ 2011 proposed $5 fee would have been avoidable if one does not use the debit card. In contrast, the monthly $3 weasel fee at AZFCU is not avoidable unless you close your membership completely! Why does AZFCU want to distinguish itself as being a worse deal than banks? Credit unions have often promoted themselves as offering BETTER deals on rates and loans than banks since credit unions are member-owned. That is not the case with Arizona FCU.
Here is the September 2011 article in USA Today announcing Bank of America’s plan to begin charging $5 monthly for using their debit card:
Here are the articles in USA Today announcing the banks were cancelling the ill-advised program to charge a $5 monthly debit card fee.
October 28, 2011, Chase and Wells Fargo dropped their plans to begin charging a $5 monthly fee for use their debit cards:
November 1, 2011, Bank of America dropped their plan to begin charging a $5 monthly fee for using their debit cards:
November 1, 2011, Suntrust and Regions Bank dropped their plans to begin charging a $5 monthly fee for using their debit cards:
But other big banks have made of a point of publicizing the fact that they don’t charge a debit card fee. Citibank earlier said it decided not to charge a debit card fee because customers made it clear that they didn’t want to pay for the convenience of using their cards. TD Bank put out a press release Friday stating that it will continue to offer its customers debit cards with no monthly fee.
TD Bank said a survey of its customers revealed that 70% would discontinue their account if the bank charged a debit card fee.
Most small banks and credit unions don’t charge debit card fees. In an effort to attract new deposits, some of those institutions have launched advertising campaigns urging angry customers of big banks to switch accounts.
A grassroots effort on Facebook has designated Nov. 5 “Bank Transfer Day” and is encouraging consumers who are unhappy with new bank fees to move their accounts to credit unions or community banks.
The 2011 proposed excessive $5 monthly debit card fees by the banks were cancelled because consumers rebelled against the greedy fees, causing thousands of bank customers to choose a credit union instead. Why is AZFCU leadership tone deaf to its members? An unavoidable monthly $3 weasel fee is NEVER acceptable. It is unbelievable that we even need to have this conversation, but we do because of how Arizona Federal has blundered. Fees should only be charged for members’ using particular services, with a way to avoid them. TruWest Credit Union has expressed the correct way to do this when they said:
In regards to fees, TruWest believes that the entire membership should not finance the costs of products or services that only a small portion of the membership uses. Fees are intended to offset the costs associated with a product or service, not to increase the Credit Union’s income. TruWest uses fees to influence member behavior patterns and product selection. Fees are also used to reduce adverse and costly member practices, such as routinely writing checks against insufficient funds. TruWest’s fee programs are designed in such a way that the membership can employ fee “avoidance” or fee “alternative” techniques.
Now, compare what we have highlighted from TruWest Credit Union, above, to Arizona Federal Credit Union bashing the banks for a $5 monthly debit card fee, below. It’s hypocritical and dishonest for AZFCU to be charging a $3 monthly membership fee while having a page on their website bashing banks for a $5 debit card fee that doesn’t exist:
Charge a fee to use your debit card? Not us!
As reported by USA Today, The Washington Post and other news agencies, Bank of America announced today that beginning early next year they will charge their customers a $5 monthly fee if they use their debit cards to make purchases. This follows previous announcements by other large banks (including Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and others) that they are either testing or fully rolling out monthly debit card fees.
Why does AZFCU have this message on its website, from a USA Today article in 2011, when those banks came to their senses, reversed course, and cancelled the $5 monthly debit card fee?
These fees, which are in addition to monthly fees the banks already charge to their checking customers, will be assessed to any cardholder who uses the bank’s debit card for even a single purchase during a monthly billing cycle. But don’t worry, the experts say there’s a way to avoid the fee: make no purchases using the card. None.
At Arizona Federal, there are no such plans. Rather, we encourage members to use their debit cards for all of their purchases, with no fear of being assessed a debit card fee. We recently even rewarded one of our members with a free trip to Disneyland as the result of a drawing that included everyone who had made a certain type of purchase with an Arizona Federal debit card in the previous six weeks. Use their card, pay a fee; use ours, go to the Happiest Place on Earth!
Charge the members almost $6 million annually from $3 monthly, which is $36 annually, in weasel fees, then brag about giving away 1 free trip to Disneyland and the members should be happy with that? Why not give us some “financial education” that you claim to offer to remind the members that most credit unions and banks offer better rates but without an unavoidable $3 fee charged every month, simply for being a member.
So, why, when everyone else seems to be charging more for the same service, are we increasing the value of our checking account by adding a comprehensive identity protection package as a standard feature while charging one of the lowest monthly fees anywhere? (See a cost comparison of checking accounts in the Valley.)
A better question is, why, when everyone else seems to not have an unavoidable $3 monthly membership fee, that AZFCU wants to be greedy and punish members for being members?
It’s simple: at Arizona Federal, there’s no “we” (the institution) or “you” (the customer); there’s just “us”. This is a financial cooperative, a group of people who have banded together to provide each other with affordable financial services within the context of mutually-beneficial relationships. When one of us uses a credit union debit card to make a purchase, it benefits all of us in the form of a fee collected from the merchant, and because we keep our overhead low, that’s more than enough to cover our cost.
Wrong. AZFCU fatcats are taking $3 every month from US. That is not mutually beneficial. Many other banks and credit unions offer rewards directly or indirectly for using a credit card or debit card to make purchases. The only thing “special” that AZFCU is “offering” is a monthly $3 ripoff fee.
So, we beg to differ with the experts. You don’t have to quit using a debit card to avoid paying a fee. You just have to use the right debit card. Your Arizona Federal debit card. The card you get from us.
We beg to differ with Arizona Federal. You have to avoid being a member completely with Arizona Federal to avoid paying a fee, because they punish their members $3 every month with an unavoidable monthly $3 weasel fee, whether you have a debit card or not. Arizona Federal claims their debit card is better when they say “you don’t have to quit using a debit card to avoid paying a fee.” Yet Arizona Federal won’t let you avoid paying a monthly $3 weasel fee, even if you don’t have a debit card with them, and only have a basic share savings account!