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The Dark Side of Debit Cards

Written by Nickel - 42 Comments

If you’ve followed this site for any length of time, you’re likely aware that I’m not a huge fan of debit cards. While I recognize that they can be quite convenient at times, debit cards simply have too many disadvantages for me to use one instead of a credit card.

In the past, my biggest concern has been fraud. While debit card issuers typically offer fraud protection on par with credit cards, fraudulent activity typically results in an investigation before the questionable charges are eventually reversed. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t want a portion of my bank balance tied up with things get sorted out.

Fees, fees, and more fees

Well, after reading this article, I now have one more reason to dislike debit cards: overdraft fees. I know what you’re thinking — any responsible debit card user won’t overdraw their accounts, but…

We’re all human, and it might happen. In fact, it did happen to Peter Means, who’s been using a debit card to reign in his spending, but wound up getting hit with seven different $34 overdraft fees in a single day.

“[Means] was stunned when his bank charged him seven $34 fees to cover seven purchases when there was not enough cash in his account, notifying him only afterward. He paid $4.14 for a coffee at Starbucks — and a $34 fee. He got the $6.50 student discount at the movie theater — but no discount on the $34 fee. He paid $6.76 at Lowe’s for screws — and yet another $34 fee. All told, he owed $238 in extra charges for just a day’s worth of activity.”

To make matters worse, he had actually deposited sufficient funds a few days earlier, but it took too long for these transactions to clear.

Doing us a favor?

The problem here is that banks allow customers to overdraw their accounts without warning. Sure, they call it “overdraft protection,” as if they’re doing you a favor but they don’t actually ask if you want it. And why would they? Banks are expected to collect tens of billions of dollars this year on overdraft fees alone.

Compare that to the situation with credit cards. Under the terms of the CARD Act of 2009, cardholders will have to opt in for approval of over-limit charges. In other words, you can protect yourself from inadvertent credit card fees.

The solution?

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has actually introduced legislation to level the playing field between credit cards and debit cards by requiring consumer consent before banks can permit (and charge for) overdrafts. The legislation would also regulate overdraft fees and prohibit banks from maximizing overdraft fees by manipulating the order in which transactions are posted.

Of course, such restrictions will come at a cost. If banks lose overdrafts as a major profit center, some industry experts are predicting that they’ll start charging monthly service fees on formerly “free” checking accounts. That way we can all share the joy.

Source: NY Times

Published on September 11th, 2009 - 42 Comments
Filed under: Banking, Credit Cards

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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42 Responses to “The Dark Side of Debit Cards”

  1. 1
    Walt Says:

    “fraudulent activity typically results in an investigation before the questionable charges are eventually reversed”

    that part’s actually not true…typically the bank takes your word for it and issues you provisional credit within 24 hours. they DO investigate, of course, (and take the credit back if it’s determined there wasn’t fraud) but you don’t have to wait to get your money back.

  2. 2
    Ruth Says:

    Agreed, all of these are downsides, BUT a very few banks actually pay a nice interest rate (mine is 4.1%) on bank balances when the debit card is used a minimum number of times per month. So it is working better for me than tying my money up in a CD–actually using my checking as a savings account with a nice interest rate.

  3. 3
    Chris Says:

    I agree with Nickel here. There is more risk involved when using your debit card. What if a wrongful charge caused your rent check to bounce? Your landlord won’t care that it wasn’t really your fault. On a credit card you have 30days to deal with it before it ever touches your pocket.

  4. 4
    JeffrO Says:

    That’s why I left banks years ago. Find a Credit Union that serves its members. Mine has no overdraft fees. They simply move the funds from my savings (or LOC, if you choose) when the funds are not in the checking acct.
    Your other points about protections are spot-on. Debit cards DO NOT carry as good a protection, no matter what the financial gurus may tell you. The protections may be promised, and in writing, but practically speaking, the funds are held and inaccessible on a debit card until matters are resolved.

  5. 5
    BG Says:

    I’ve used a visa-debit card (solely) for about 10 years now — I practically never have cash on me. My wife and I average about 5 transactions per day on our cards (combined).

    In all this time, we have lost a card 5 times or so (never a fraudulent charge in those instances).

    We only once saw a ‘possibly’ fraudulent transaction in the online statement that stayed in ‘Pending’ for a few days and eventually was removed automatically — BofA replaced that card for us for free at our request.

    As far as I am concerned, a debit card is much safer than cash. As for credit cards, we may have 1-2 transactions per-month (which we payoff fully) usually from my bar tab (I never open a tab with my debit card). For me, I think it would be pretty dumb to be charging gas, groceries, and all the other crap we use our debit card for onto a credit card.

    We have been burnt by some overdrafts in those 10 years (maybe $100 worth) — but I can guarantee if we were carrying cash, we (my wife) would’ve lost much more than that through miscounting money, or just simply losing the physical dollar bills. Plus I can track every dollar that is spent for budgeting purposes.

  6. 6
    Ellen Says:

    There is always a down-side to more fair practices when it comes to finance, often in the form of “free” services turning into charged services.
    With that said, though, most people take into consideration the time period for funds to clear before writing a check or using their debits. A safe way is to deposit to savings and transfer to checking, because transfers clear instantly. That’s what my mother always taught me growing up, and it’s worked for me.

  7. 7
    Kevin@OutOfYourRut Says:

    Debit cards can be ugly, but increasingly, so are credit cards. Both are issued by banks. Banks are looking to make more money on both in a relentless we-win-you-lose game. We’re at a disadvantage either way we go.

    The real solution then is to start seeking alternatives to the banks. How much tighter can the screws get before we won’t be able to afford the banks any more?
    $34 overdraft/1% interest on savings? It would take all the interest on a $3000+ savings account for a full year just to cover a single overdraft fee!

    That’s called a guaranteed loss!

  8. 8
    Craig Says:

    Fraud is more of an issue but you also need a Pin for it so wouldn’t that be more safe? Also the overdraft fees are bad if you happen to go over without realizing. I try to use my debit more than my credit so I can see the cash coming out right away, but I can see how there is a dark side.

  9. 9
    BG Says:

    #8 Craig) No PIN needed — an ‘evil-doer’ only needs the 16-digit account number, the expiration date, and perhaps the CV2 code (on the back of the card).

    A waiter could easily write this down when you hand over your card for example. But, the vast majority of people are honest, and the others get busted pretty quick. I’m sure fraud sucks if it happens to you, but it is simple to safe-guard against: Don’t put all your money into an account that is fronted with a debit-card, and check your online statement regularly (twice a week of so).

    You are right that the overdraft fees can get ugly real quick, but if it is a rare thing for you to overdraft, the bank might forgive the charges…

  10. 10
    Des Says:

    Who still pays overdraft fees??? Every bank and credit union I’ve ever used (which is in the neighborhood of 8-10) has offered either an overdraft protection LOC, or pulls from your savings account (usually the LOC). I would never use a checking account without having overdraft protection. And since it is so common, I can’t even fathom why anybody still overdraws their accounts.

  11. 11
    BG Says:

    #10 Des) Every bank I’ve looked at has charged a ‘fee’ for the overdraft-protection. So instead of paying an overdraft-fee, you are now paying an overdraft-protection-fee (same thing in my mind). The only bank that does not charge a fee (ever) is ING Orange (online) — that I’ve been able to find, but it still has limits and strings attached.

    If you know of real ‘brick-and-mortar’ banks that have no-fee overdraft protection, then please list them here so we can all benefit.

  12. 12
    Rosa Says:

    Don’t they charge you a fee for overdraft protection?

    I know when I got my first debit card in the late ’90s it was simply declined if I didn’t have the money – when did that change and what drove it? I’d applaud a policy that made the default be you could not use the card if it were going to cause an overdraft – but when we brought this up with TCF we were told there was absolutely no way they could do that.

  13. 13
    Rebecca Says:

    While I still greatly prefer my debit card to credit cards, I have a similar story with overdraft fees.

    We had canceled a magazine subscription several months before, but were charged for another year without our knowledge. We assumed that we knew how much we had in the bank, but because of this we managed to have several overdraw purchases in one day (all charged the fee, of course). They were all under 20 dollars, and the fee was right around 30. Ended up being just shy of $200 in fees. The bank credited us back our money for the magazine subscription that was wrongfully charged, but not the overdraft fees, even though they were the result of the magazine fee. Ugh.

  14. 14
    Blue Says:

    I funnel everything through “a” credit card. That being said, you should have sufficient funds in your account. If you are over drafting the account, then you are probably over spending or not paying enough attention to your finances.

  15. 15
    GaelicWench Says:

    If it’s a Rewards checking account you use your debit card with, then padding it with an extra $100 that you can’t “see” is a good way to prevent the NSF fees. You’ll also earn a wee extra in interest. Not much, but it sure beats having to pay upwards of $34-$39.

    I have several checking accounts that are free. Should any bank start to charge monthly fees, I will not hesitate to close my account with them. I am certainly glad that I am with USAA,which is where I do all my bill paying. Also, having just moved, my other half and I are going to open a joint account at a local credit union. We closed our previous joint checking at the local CU where we used to live. Had great experiences there. So, between those two, we’ll be in fairly good shape.

  16. 16
    lostAnnfound Says:

    “To make matters worse, he had actually deposited sufficient funds a few days earlier, but it took too long for these transactions to clear.”

    Where did the “sufficient funds” go? If he had deposited the money, shouldn’t it have been in his account? It should not matter how long it takes for a transaction to clear your checking account. One you have made a purchase, you should deduct it from the money that you have in your account, not wait for it to “clear.”

    Or am I missing something??

  17. 17
    Courtney Says:

    @ 16 – it took too long for the *deposits* to clear. What it seems happened was he deposited money into his account, waited a few days, then spent the money. But the bank took too long to process the deposit, while still processing his purchases. Another sneaky trick of banks is that if you deposit money at 10am and spend money from 1-1:30pm, they’ll process all your purchases before your deposits, in hopes of triggering overdraft fees.

  18. 18
    BG Says:

    The way we’ve been able to avoid overdraft fees is to keep a buffer in the checking account ($100, $500, or whatever), then treat that as a ‘virtual zero’. If we cross the $500 line, then we treat that as we are already overdrafting and stop all spending and do whatever it takes (transfer money) to bring it back up to $500.

    Never use the real $0 as zero, because you will occasionally slip and have to pay massive fees, as people are realizing. We’ve crossed our virtual-zero many times (accidentally), but have never had to pay an overdraft fee because of it.

    Some banks allow you to setup email alerts on whatever amount you want — just setup an email alert on the amount you want for your virtual-zero… It truly is a simple solution.

  19. 19
    Tim Says:

    @16, i agree with you.

    @17, wait a minute, it’s a bank being sneaky that prevented him from checking his available balance before debiting from his account? seems to me, you shouldn’t be spending money you don’t have and you shouldn’t be spending money before your deposits actually clear. this was a big problem, and the reason banks started overdraft protection, when it took 3 days for checks to clear the bank system. people counted on the gap days to write checks before deposits in “anticipation” the deposits would happen. if you are worried about a $5 latte from starbucks being charged overdraft, you probably ought not be buying the $5 latte. if you don’t want to rely on the bank’s overdraft protection, then create your own internal one by keeping a $500 buffer or something in your account. the problem is, people like to say oh, i have $500 buffer so I can still debit. this is the exact same thing people do when they have overdraft protection from the bank.

    @nickel: my primary bank does not automatically provide overdraft protection and at least a couple of other of my banks do not as well. you have to request it. for my primary bank, if you want overdraft protection, you have to use your own credit card. if that isn’t motivation enough to keep sufficient funds in your account i don’t know what is. by using your credit card for overdraft protection at my bank, i took it as that it would be a cash advance rather than a POS, so i never set it up. that is motivation enough, since cash advances on cc charges interest immediately. now i’ve never checked to see if any overdraft would be charged as cash advance or POS, but so long as i’ve convinced myself it is a cash advance, i won’t be setting up overdraft protection and i will be keeping enough funds as a buffer. i’m glad my bank does this, because it puts the burden on the consumer.

  20. 20
    Rosa Says:

    The thing is, you shouldn’t have to have all these workarounds to ensure, for instance, that the bank is going to process transactions in the order they come in, or that it’s not going to take 6 times as long for them to process deposits as to process spending transactions.

    That’s why we need regulations on these practices. Banks have found all the ways they can to exploit electronic banking to charge more fees.

  21. 21
    Lee Says:

    In the UK debit cards are pretty much the defacto method of payment these days. Some people use cash (after using their debit card in an ATM), and for big purchases the credit card comes out for protection, or because they can’t afford it…

  22. 22
    Sasha Says:

    What the article doesn’t tell you is that your bank may still charge you an NSF fee if you swipe and they reject the transaction. So the same $39 fee that you get if the transaction goes through may occur with the additional embarrassment of having your card rejected for a $1 item. Though that would only be one fee in comparison to the 4 and 5 you may unknowingly rack up, they will still get their money.

  23. 23
    Annie Says:

    No wonder the US banking system is and has caused the world so much trouble! In Canada, debit cards are issued by the bank where you have an account (no Visa or M/C debit) and have essentially replaced paper cheques. The account holder determines whether or not to apply for overdraft protection, and up to that limit, you are not charged fees – interest at 21%, though. A charge that would put you over your limit, would be declined.

  24. 24
    Rosa Says:

    Annie, who actually handles the transaction, or who pays for the system that communicates with the bank & transfers the money?

    My credit union issued my debit card but the transactions are actually processed by Visa, so it’s only accepted where Visa is accepted.

  25. 25
    Courtney Says:

    Tim, you’re talking about counting on a “float” where you spend money first and then deposit money to cover it, gambling that the deposit will clear before the transactions do. That’s always a bad idea. But if you deposit money *first* like Mr. Means did, then I think you should have a reasonable expectation of being able to spend it within a couple of says, and it sounds like that was not the case here. That should be the bank’s problem, not his (barring a bounced check deposit or something). Plus, you should never rely on your “available” balance because the bank doesn’t know what checks you’ve written that haven’t cleared yet.

  26. 26
    Tim Says:

    @courtney, in this day and age, if you cannot login and check that the deposit has cleared before you start spending money, then it is your own fault. Banks have differing policies as to how many days it takes for deposits to clear. Even then you don’t spend the money until you see that the deposit has actually credited your account. Mr. Means is at fault for not checking, not the bank for charging him overdraft fees. As far as what checks you’ve written, again, that is up to you to maintain good records. These days, unless someone is processing checks by hand, they are instantaneous transactions now without the float days.

    @Annie, someone is providing the electronic network for your debit card, which is more than likely PLUS or CIRRUS these days. this has nothing to do with the economic problems.

    Overdraft is still provided, because there is a market for it. Some banks process deposits before debits, others the opposite. You should know what your bank does. It goes back to knowing the terms and conditions. If you don’t want overdraft protection, then don’t get it.

  27. 27
    kev Says:

    @Tim,

    I agree with the overall theme of what you’re saying – it goes back to the ‘personal responsibility’ topic that we have all read so much about over the past year or so.

    With that being said… The misc. fees that banks impose have become ridiculous. So much so that is getting increasingly harder to avoid them.

    I received a new debit card from my Credit Union in the mail last month b/c my current one expired. The process is always the same. I have to activate the card in an ATM machine before it can be used for purchases, so I do a balance check at some random ATM machine before using it. I have never been charged for a balance inquiry in the past – never. Sure enough – last month when I did a balance inquiry to activate my card my freaking credit union dinged me for .50 cents for what used to be a free service! I was completely unaware of this change.

    I never get charged misc. ATM fees or over-draft fees b/c I am responsible and extremely careful, yet this still happened. It’s bs plain and simple. If any other industry tried pulling half the crap that banks do the government would be all over them.

  28. 28
    The Bear Says:

    Lots to say about this. I have said this in previous posts, and I will say it again. Too many people think of their banks as somebody they are married to. The banking industry is very competitive. Unless you live in a very remote city, you will have at least several choices as to who you bank with. If one bank charges very high fees, there are always bank and credit unions that will not.

    A simple solution to this is not to expect congress to pass laws to protect us (the banks will find other fees to hit you with) but just to take you money elsewhere. The largest bank in my city is one of the worst when it comes to fees (not just overdrafts). When I worked there, I dealt with so many people getting angry over those high fees. People yelled, cussed, made threats, but they never left the bank. The VPs at the bank knew this, so they left the fee where they were.

    When I left that job, I took my money to another bank. They were not much better, so I ended out taking my money to a local credit union. It amazes me to see people complain about this, yet people rarely look around and find a better deal. Banks realize this, so they charge high fees.

  29. 29
    Free Your Mind Says:

    Debit Cards in my opinion are bad for most people these days. I believe that carrying cash (in most cases) is best.

    Consider that when you use your debit card (or any plastic for that matter) you are more likely to spend more money. This is because you don’t actually SEE the money leaving your hand. It is psychological.

    And Debit Cards are often more difficult to keep track of (balance wise).

    You can google and article called “Why you should never own a debit card” that also goes into some detail about Debit cards.

  30. 30
    Kevin@OutOfYourRut Says:

    Free Your Mind (29)–I agree on carrying cash. We’re getting socked for all of these fees because the system has succeeded in convincing us that cash is a bad deal, even though it’s been the preferred method of payment for 1000s of years.

    But what I want to comment on is the check deposit fiasco. I don’t know how many people paid much attention to this, but a couple of years ago, at the direction of the Federal Reserve, the banks began holding checks longer–as a matter of law. Thus, even a check from the government or an instate bank could be legally held for up to four days, I believe.

    The point is, don’t go spending money on a check you deposited this morning, or even yesterday.

    The fact that we ***need, must, should*** be checking up on our bank balances and policies on a continuous basis is problematic. What got us in a position of trusting the banks so completely was that our dealings with them were seamless for decades. But not any more. The relationship has become adversarial as a result of numerous legislative changes, all of which have been in the banks favor.

    My thought is that what ever the limitations of dealing in cash, the time for reacquainting ourselves with it may be fast approaching…

  31. 31
    BG Says:

    I disagree with some points people are making. You can’t expect a bank to instantly make available a check that you just deposited. Have you heard of check fraud? Have you heard of bounced checks? Have you heard of the Great Depression where banks refused to cash each others checks because there was no money behind them?

    Checks are contracts — they are NOT MONEY. You want a bank to instantly turn a questionable check/contract into hard cash for you to spend — good luck with that. Any money the bank allows you to spend from a deposit that has not cleared is a courtesy of the bank – they are loaning to you FREE money that they have not yet received from the drawn account. They are taking on a risk if they allow even a percentage of a deposit to be instantly available, because the transaction might fail.

    Now, if you deposit CURRENCY, then that is money and is instantly available, as long as you use a live-person teller, or a “smart” ATM that actually counts the cash itself when making the deposit. If you have to put your cash into an envelope to deposit it, then it should not be instantly available because nobody (besides you) has verified the contents of the envelope.

    Some BofA ATM machines have the ability to count cash now, that money is instantly available. Those same ATM machines now employ OCR to read routing/account numbers on checks to start the check clearing process as soon as possible. It is getting to the point that some check deposits are available the next day — that is an impressive feat if you truly understand what the banks are doing to make this happen.

    I don’t understand why people do not understand these simple concepts of the banking system. Yes you need to handle your own records for the checks you write (or future bill pays etc). I’ve had checks that were 80+ days old to finally clear. It is MY responsibility to keep track of that because the bank has no clue what checks I’ve written until they are presented to the bank as drafts. And it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that your questionable CHECKS have actually cleared before spending MONEY that might not even be behind them. Checks are NOT money, and the only check I trust is a check that’s cleared.

    15 years ago we did not have the Internet to have instant access to banking statements, yet people got along just fine because they actually kept an eye on their own finances. Then again, banks just returned everything as NSF potentially causing cascades of NSF fees on everyone else’s account because of a single deadbeat jackass. Now it is just the deadbeats who are getting fee’d to death, and I am glad for it.

  32. 32
    JimmyDaGeek Says:

    I realize that denying a transaction is a lot better then paying an overdraft fee, but if you run close to the edge, ING Direct has bonafide overdraft protection that comes with its checking account. You pay a small fee for borrowing from the overdraft account. I don’t remember if there is an interest charge.

  33. 33
    BG Says:

    #32 JimmyDaGeek) ING’s Electric Orange Checking account does have overdraft protection built-in — it is based on a line-of-credit (LOC) that they establish with you. When you overdraft the checking account, they automatically pull funds from the LOC, which you pay interest on (current 7.25%) — there is no ‘fee’, just the interest payment — which is nothing compared to what a ‘brick-and-mortar’ bank will hit you with.

    This company does have the best system I’ve found for overdraft protection (least cost) so far, but I still have not switched to them: you need a real ‘brick-and-mortar’ bank linked to their account so you can make paper-check deposits (for example) — and because of that hassle, I’m not switching (yet).

  34. 34
    MRT Says:

    I was wondering if it is required by your Financial Institution to have all credit transactions on your debit card to be put in hold/pending before it actually posts.

    I get paid the 15th of every month and so on 09/14 (monday) around 5:00PM, I checked my available balance (I even took a screen shot). So the next day (09/15), there were transactions that posted that weren’t even in pending that caused me to overdraft. For example, I had spent $5 at a pizzeria on 09/08 and when I check on 09/14 at 5PM, that $5 wasn’t even in pending. So on 09/15, that transaction backdated to post on 09/14 which caused me to overdraft.

    I know I should personally keep track of my expenses, but since I didn’t see the $5, I thought I had $5 more and spent $3 on coffee on 09/09 and that posted on 09/14 as well which caused another insufficient funds fee. I have had suspicion that bank systems know when your balance is low, they will purposefully not put transactions in pending so you think you’ll have more money in your account to spend.

    I called customer service twice and the first time the lady said it should’ve been in pending first and checked on 09/08 and said it was strange that that transaction wasn’t even on “hold/pending”. I called a second time and a different lady tells me that not all credit transactions on your debit card will be in pending. Anybody know if all credit transactions on debit cards should be in pending first before being posted?

  35. 35
    BG Says:

    MRT) I’ve seen it both ways. I’ve seen transactions show up as “Pending” within minutes of the transaction. I’ve also had transaction not show up for a couple of days: especially true over weekends — tons of stuff post on Monday.

    I’m guessing in your case, that restaurants are handled differently from a convenience store (for example), because it is a “tip-able” transaction — that might explain why the pizzeria was delayed. You might want to talk with the pizzeria manager about how their credit/debit transactions go through — they may be on some ancient technology where they mail the friggin receipts in, cause 6 days is a long time for something like this.

    I’m sure there are going to be posting differences if the transaction goes through as credit/Visa versus debit/Pulse as well. Also, checks you write can be converted into “Electronic Drafts” and post the same day, so never play the float-game.

  36. 36
    Chris Says:

    I have also seen the transactions go both ways, on my credit card. I check the account once a day to make sure no suspicious transactions go through. Which happens more likely than you might expect.

  37. 37
    Terry Says:

    I thought Congress fixed the “takes forever for deposited funds to clear” problem several years ago, and now funds should clear within 48 hours.

  38. 38
    Tim Says:

    @kev, you said you went to some random atm, which means that it wasn’t necessarily your credit union that charged you for the service, but the atm owner. now, it could be that your credit union also charges for non-credit union operated atm’s. the amazing thing you get with your billing statements and with a new card are little inserts called terms and conditions. i check the little notice section on my bill statement every month i get one. when you activate a new card, that is saying you are complying with the terms and conditions slip that is provided with that new card, replacement or otherwise.

    @MRT: if you were that close (e.g. $5 balance), why would you even want to debit $3 coffee? I just don’t understand why people want to run so close to their balances. i understand that mistakes happen, and I’ve made them, but if you are talking about $5 you really should be looking at your spending behavior as a whole.

    @MRT: pending or not: it really depends on the merchant. Some merchants’ systems will put an immediate hold on your account for $x, others don’t necessarily do that. This is one reason why i like using credit cards, because then you don’t have to worry about what is pending or not. of course, i pay off in full every month, so it doesn’t matter to me. pending or not will also depend on when the merchant reconciles the transaction. so even if it was in pending, it can take up to 6 days to reconcile out of pending status.

    @terry: if a merchant isn’t tied into the electronic clearing house system for checks, then it depends on when they deposit the checks to their banks and how long their banks take to scan those checks in for transfer. If a merchant scans the check, you should see a hold immediately nowadays on your account (that is if your bank shows pending transactions on an online account or by phone).

    seriously, you have a choice in banks and you have the terms and conditions included. If people are unaware of the terms and conditions, especially nowadays, then it is really their fault. i’m continually amazed how many people complain about these fees, etc., and are unaware of them. i don’t get it, because we are all aware of the environment.

  39. 39
    Curtis Says:

    Yeah, it sucks when you got a dollar or two over because you JUST HAD to have that coffee/soda/snickers bar. But when it prevents your mortgage check from bouncing, I bet you’re glad the bank went ahead and paid it.

    It really all boils down to personal responsibility. Live within your means and don’t try to cheat a system you don’t understand (e.g., by playing float games), and you’ll be happier because you’ll feel — and be! — more incontrol.

    (The “you”s and “your”s aren’t directed at any particular commenter.)

  40. 40
    Adele Says:

    Help Me

    I have used online banking for bill payment and debit cards for more than 10 years This week I had amounts withdrawn from my account without authorization, causing my account to be overdrawn, and subsequent overdraft fees.I have never encountered this. I was told by the bank that by paying by debit or online in the past, that I have given permission for companies to collect outstanding debts. My account was literally frozen, I had no money.I argue that it is illegal for any company to withdraw money from my account without instruction for each transaction.
    Help me to understand and BEWARE

  41. 41
    j Says:

    Credit cards and debit cards are in essence a scam. Who would ever have thought that rational people would willingly-happily-give away their social security number and other personal information to a non governmental entity and then pay what amounts to legalized extortion every month. The Mob offers better rates and at least they are honest about what will happen should you not pay on time. What the Credit companies offer is a lie, and that lie is continues by the banks which also are a lie. Do you really believe that they make life easier? That they are better than cash? The companies want you to. The commercials try to convince you that cash is so yesterday and holds up the line. The reality? Credit cards hold up more lines. Cards do not go through. Pin numbers fail. The line grows. We all need to just say no. And take back our lives.

  42. 42
    Drew Says:

    Get this TD Bank has their computers set up to charge you overdraft fees on debit card purchses even if at the time of purchase the money was available in your accounht.Yes, even know the transaction is approaved and the money is put in holding for the merchant. Once the merchant has claimed their money, the transaction is sent back in to the account as if it was another debit.

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