NFCC Survey On Debit Card Fees
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), a viable alternative to hiring debt settlement companies, conducted an online poll of 2400 during the month of October, regarding debit card fees. Only three percent of responders would continue to use their debit card as usual if they were charged a fee.
They were asked “If my bank were to impose a fee related to debit card use, I would…” Here is how they responded to the five choices:
62 percent would find a bank that doesn’t charge debit card fees.
22 percent would begin paying cash for purchases.
8 percent would begin paying for purchases by check.
5 percent would begin charging for purchases.
3 percent would keep using their debit card as usual.
The top choice was switching banks, which requires time and research. You need to pay attention to all the fees, fine print, number of locations and access to ATMs. It takes time to make the switch to wait for everything to clear, change direct deposits, drafts, and automated bill pay. If you do switch, make sure you are not paying additional fees for other services.
Paying by cash or check is the best way to live within your means and not get into debt, but it won’t help you build credit. It is inconvenient and un safe to carry around a lot of cash. You have to keep your checking account balanced, so you don’t bounce checks. Some places don’t accept checks.
Charging more of your purchases can get you into trouble. It is too easy to charge now and pay later, and not realize how much you have charged. This can get you into financial difficulty and debt quickly. If you are responsible and pay your credit card bills in full and on time, it can help you build good credit. If you don’t, it will do the reverse, since your credit card payment history is included on your credit report.
“People have become very aware of how they spend their money, even small amounts, and that’s a good thing,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “The poll results send a strong message, but at this point that message remains a sentiment. Only time will tell if people will follow through and actually change long-ingrained habits.”
Since this study was conducted, many of the banks have cancelled debit card fees. The key reason was consumer and politician backlash. It still may be a good time to review the fees you are being charged by your bank.
Credit Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. Follow him on Twitter here.