Does it seem like your bank charges fees for everything these days? It might be worse than you think—some banks charge their customers a fee for doing nothing. If you fail to initiate any transactions in your checking, savings or money-market account for periods ranging from a few months to a year, you might get hit with an “inactivity” or “dormant account” fee of $5 to $15 every month until you do.
Continued inaction could mean that your bank freezes your account. If you then, say, start writing checks from a frozen account, those checks will bounce, potentially triggering multiple bounced-check fees. Or your bank might close your inactive account, resulting not only in bounced checks but also in a loss of any interest that you thought the account was earning.
Account holders might learn of this only after it has occurred—and then only if they log into their accounts and check their online statements carefully. Many financial institutions no longer automatically supply printed statements.
Essential Checking accounts at SunTrust in Florida face a $15 per month fee after 12 months of inactivity. Community Bank in New York and Pennsylvania imposes a $15 per month inactivity fee after 12 months for checking accounts and after 36 months for savings accounts. Commerce Bank, which has locations across the Midwest, imposes a $3 per month fee starting after just 60 days of inactivity for “myDirect Checking” accounts. Citadel Credit Union in Pennsylvania imposes a $15 per month fee when “Free Checking” accounts are inactive for 90 days.
WHAT TO DO
Ask your bank or credit union whether any of your accounts could face inactivity fees and how to avoid them. Consider the following steps…
Set up an automatic, online recurring transfer of a small amount of money into or out of the account each month or quarter.
Use an institution that does not charge inactivity fees. Examples: Capital One Bank 360 Checking and various Ally Bank accounts.