Ex-WaMu customers face Chase service fees

By Becky Yerak
Posted Dec. 28, 2010 at 5:55 p.m.

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.

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  1. PJ Jan. 3 at 12:59 pm

    Chase’s takeover of WAMU has not been a positive one for Washington Mutual customers. Overdraft charges of $34 now include a $15 extended overdraft if you have the balance longer than a week. Non-US ATM withdrawls are up to $5 (from $3), it now costs $1 to print a list of transactions at an ATM, overdraft protection fee is raised from $10 to $12, stop payment requests up to $34, wire transfers raised to $30.

    This is not cost of doing business upcharges, this is a case of a business gorging on its least profitable customers. Now that new federal regulations have halted some of the more aberrant banking practices, Chase is looking to make up as much of the difference as possible to maintain appearances to an overly inflated bottom line.

    I am leaving Chase before the Feb 8th deadline after having the same account for over a decade.

  2. Amar Jan. 6 at 1:23 pm

    I will be leaving chase too. I hope a lot of people leave chase because of this, so they realize they are not a monopoly. I’m in search of a new bank, USAA bank is something I’m looking into. If anybody finds a bank with free checking, please do share the info.

  3. Jackie Jan. 6 at 3:23 pm

    Huntington National Bank is up and coming int he midwest, has free checking and an unheard of 24 hour grace period if you become overdrawn. You can make it right tomorrow and avoid fees. Even if there isn’t a branch terribly close to you, with direct depost, debit cards and online banking, its the best

  4. dan Jan. 6 at 9:08 pm

    I wasn’t happy with our supposedly “grandfathered/free” clause from my WaMu (now Chase) account either…BUT…my main bank..Citi…with whom i have had a direct deposit account for 2 years…member since ‘92…on a call Dec. 1 ‘10 (because of Chase letter “changes” as of Feb. 5 ‘11) informed me i did not qualify for a balance of under 1500 without checking charges…needed 5 direct deposits, or 5 auto pays, or 5 debit transactions…ONE of these things satisfied but NOT A COMINATION there of….Chase only requires 1 direct deposit of 500 a month….after calling my employer and making the direct deposit changes (to Chase)…called Citi back just to confirm….NOW they say i can have COMBINATION of the above..after talking to 3 different Citi operators they confirmed it…I asked them if something had changed since Dec. 1…no knowledge…when talking to the first guy (Dec. 1)…why didn’t he just tell me, sir you already qualify….I talked to TWO different people that night..said the same thing…the second time I called them Dec. 28 ‘10 said they were sorry and would send me a letter or email of apology for the “miscommunication”…still haven’t heard ANYTHING from them,guess they don’t need my business,I think they were still trying to get me to pay checking fees even though I qualified for free…they are now temporarily my secondary account…soon to given to a credit union

  5. First, Ill talk about dog travel. My two fav places that take dogs are Mar Vista Cottages on the southern Mendo coast (see my review in the Sonoma-Mendocino Coast section. Also, I love the Stanford Inn in Mendocino, and they welcome dogs with open arms (see my review in the Mendocino section. If neither of those works, let me know and well see about finding someplace else for you.

  6. Mike G. Money Jan. 7 at 6:41 a.m.

    leave chase! dont’ give them the staisfaction!

  7. Phil K Jan. 11 at 10:15 a.m.

    First Merit has free checking-offices all over Chicagoland

  8. Happy FM Customer Jan. 11 at 11:08 a.m.

    Yes, FirstMerit has Reality Checking. Free checks, Free online Banking with bill pay, debit card rewards, free wire transfers and you also get a no minimum balance savings account with it that pays 1.25%! The customer service is also GREAT! I work at O’hare and use the office at Elmhurst rd near Oakton. The folks there are wonderful!

  9. Frank L Jan. 11 at 11:16 a.m.

    Chase the customers away should be their new name! Reading the comments – too funny~! I left Chase last month and went to First Merit — you’re right – I use the office on Lake St – Bloomingdale – Great staff – great rates!