Smaller Banks Cashing In On Consumer Anger At Big Financial Institutions

CHICAGO (CBS) – “No Debit Card Fees.”

That’s the new marketing pitch from some community banks.

And yes, it is directly aimed at customers angry at the big banks, such as the Bank of America, which are tacking on a monthly $5 fee for debit card purchases.  

Big bank customers have made it clear that they are angry, and some say they are ready for a change.

“Something with free debit-card use is what I’d be looking for,” says Joe Bergamo, Bank of America customer.

“There’s an alternative to the big banks,” says Matthew Doubleday, senior vice president of marketing for Wintrust Community Banks.

Wintrust is a holding company that represents 14 community banks in the Chicago area.

Recently, the company placed a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune, offering customers a chance to win $60 and promising a debit card without fees.

“You can go to community banks for the same technology, flexible products that are tailored to the same need and actually have people who are nice to you,” Doubleday says.

Wintrust banks are among the more than 600 community banks in the state. Industry experts say most don’t charge fees for debit cards.

Why? Because many make their money on commercial and small business loans. Unlike the big banks, they don’t rely on fees.

Community banks also stress service, but what they don’t have a reputation for is lots of ATMs like the big banks.

“Taking money out would be harder to do at those banks,” says consumer Allie Setka.

But most community banks, like North Bank, belong to a national network offering customers free ATMs.

Officials at Bank of America acknowledge the increase competition from community banks.

They wouldn’t say if they were losing customers. But they argued that the bank offers “great distribution and many services including ATM’s and convenience.”

More from Dorothy Tucker
  • dj

    Don’t they get it. Doesn’t matter about how convenvient their ATMS are. It’s the
    FEE’S. Peoples are not going to pay a bank $5.00 a month to use their own money. I for one would not do it. The banks need to wake up.

  • voluptas

    I just found out that North Community Bank charges $1 per POS use of a debit card. That means, every time I use my card to buy something, and want cash back, NCB is charging me a $1. That is WORSE than the big banks!!!! Does anyone know of an alternative?

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