Chase, Chicago’s biggest bank, is telling customers who were charged no monthly service fees at Washington Mutual that they could face a $12 monthly service fee unless their accounts meet one of four conditions.
It’s one of several changes that Chase and other banks are making to their basic checking accounts in light of a federal crackdown on the types and amounts of fees that lenders can charge, including a dramatic reduction in fees that merchants pay banks when customers make purchases with their debit cards.
As previously reported, Chase recently disclosed that beginning Feb. 8, its “Chase Checking” customers will need at least one direct deposit of $500 a month for Chase to waive its $6 monthly service fee, or make at least five debit card purchases during the transaction period. Currently, a direct deposit of any amount qualifies.
In addition, customers in two other Chase accounts — taken on through its 2008 acquisition of what was then a teetering WaMu — will see changes.
WaMu expanded aggressively in the Chicago market, at one point ranking fifth in the number of branches. But it never cracked the Top 20 in deposit market share.
Former WaMu customers in what are now Chase Free Classic and Chase Free Extra accounts will transition to what’s called “Chase Total Checking”. Those customers, who currently have faced no monthly fees, will face a $12 monthly service fee unless they meet one of four conditions: have direct deposit with $500 minimum; a $1,500 minimum daily balance in checking account; a $5,000 daily average balance of all Chase deposit and/or investment accounts; or at least $25 in fees paid for other Chase checking-related services in the month, including check printing or insufficient funds.
Chase didn’t have an immediate explanation on why some checking customers could face a $6 charge and others $12.
Separately, Chase has been quoting Social Security Administration statistics that 93 percent of beneficiaries get a monthly check of at least than $500. That’s important because Chase said last week that two or more direct deposits that add up to $500 or more, but do not individually equal or exceed $500, do not qualify for free checking.
But people on unemployment might not be so lucky. A spokesman for the state of Illinois said the average weekly unemployment check has been about $320.