Dylan Morrill

Equinox Staff


On Feb. 14, TD Bank joined the likes of Bank of America and Citizens Bank by implementing a $5 check cashing fee to all non-customers.

Citizens Bank and Bank of America’s non-customer check cashing fees are $7 and $6, respectively. People who use TD Bank to cash checks, many of whom are USNH employees, now need to either open an account or pay a $5 fee for each check cashed.

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As long as a student has a positive student ID, he or she can open a TD Bank checking or savings account for free and will not be charged a monthly fee.

The new TD Bank fee may be part of a growing theme among the large banks in America.

Since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, more and more large banks have been introducing micro-fees of all sorts in a semi-frenetic attempt to compensate for the current and residual negative effects of the economic crisis.

Last fall Bank of America was planning to charge a fee of $5 a month to all debit card holders. The fee was remarkably unpopular among Bank of America customers.

Outrage manifested itself in a large Facebook group called “Bank Transfer Day,” which advocated its group members to transfer all of their funds to community banks or credit unions, those that generally have less annoying fees and a cozier focus on customer service. The group had over 80,000 members by the proposed transfer day of Nov. 5.

“I was a Bank of America customer for 13 years, but when this for-profit corporate banking institution announced a new policy requiring customers with less than $20,000 in combined accounts to pay a $5 monthly fee for debit card access, my discontent turned to disgust,” Kristen Christian, founder of Bank Transfer Day, said.

Interestingly, the Bank Transfer Day protest worked. In a statement posted in the NY Times on Nov. 1, four days before the proposed transfer day, Bank of America co-COO David Darnell said, “We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee.”

The statement went on to say, “As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”

The sentiment of Bank Transfer Day, to switch from the bigger banks to smaller ones, may be gaining some ground.

In a recent study, J.D. Power and Associates found that customers are now more likely to switch banks. “9.6 percent of customers in 2012 indicate they switched their primary banking institution during the past year to a new provider.

This is up from 8.7 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent in 2010,” according to the firm’s press release.

It  goes on to say, “The study finds that, not unexpectedly, fees are the main reason customers shop for a new primary bank. In particular, one-third of customers of big and large regional banks cite fees as the main shopping trigger.”

Essentially, with the emergence of new pesky micro-fees, big banks are risking volatility in customer retention for an increased bottom line; they need more money. “The change in the fee structure was necessary, in part, given the current regulatory and competitive banking environment,” TD Spokeswoman Jennifer Morneau said in an email.

The check cashing industry was estimated at $1.3 billion in a 2006 study by MSG. And yes, that is just for check cashing fees.

Paradoxically, TD Bank hopes to also lure new customers in with the new check cashing fee, as many customers who previously relied on the free service may feel inclined to just open up a checking account instead of paying $5.

The yearly average price for TD Bank stock was the highest ever in the history of the company in 2011 and the company grew much faster than anticipated in the first quarter of 2012.

“While we knew going into 2012 that our businesses would continue to grow in the face of a challenging environment, their performance has exceeded our expectations,” according to a statement from TD President and Chief Executive Ed Clark, posted in an article on MSNBC.com.

Banks are still fighting hard to survive. But now that the banks are afloat again, the question arises: do they really need to be treading water so fiercely?

Banks are for-profit companies. While we may put an extraordinary amount of trust in their services, their goal is to make a profit, just like GM, Apple, and Exxon, etc.

The new TD Bank fee has been implemented for a  17 day trial period.


Dylan Morrill can be contacted at dmorrill1@ksc.mailcruiser.com.


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