Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suggestions for Avoiding Nagging Bank Fees Keep Coming

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suggestions for Avoiding Nagging Bank Fees Keep Coming

Article excerpt

Based on reader response to last week's column suggesting that consumers shop around for a bank, it seems as if I'm not the only one frustrated by the recent increase in bank fees.

And I'm not the only one with suggestions for what to do.

"I just read your article now about avoiding the big banks in favor of smaller ones," Ronald Tegeti wrote.

"It was a pretty informative article, but I would note an omission: leaving out Oritani Bank, which continues to offer its 'TGIF' [totally] free checking," and regional banks like TD Bank, which has a checking account minimum of just $100.00 and a "formidable" network.

Tegeti is correct; we left out those two -- as well as at least a dozen others, each with multiple checking accounts with different features, fees and minimums.

In this area, we have many good choices -- Boiling Spring, BankAsiana, Bogota, Columbia, Community Bank of Bergen County, BNB Bank among them -- and I've only covered the first three letters of the alphabet.

That's why it is in your best interest to shop around for a bank that (a) is convenient for you and (b) has the best combination of fees and services.

And what about credit unions, especially the 43,000-member Paragon Federal Credit Union in Montvale that merged last year with Visions Federal Credit Union, a larger, stronger institution based in Endicott, N.Y.?

As my colleague Richard Newman reported last month, federally insured credit unions added 1.3 million members last year after receiving a lift from participants in the Bank Transfer Day protests against bank fees.

"Lately they have really dropped the ball," said a reader who goes by Odysseyfive12 online.

"We were told to go to a bank when we needed to secure a loan for our son's college tuition," he said. "Now they want to charge fees that were never in place before. The interest rates used to be better at a credit union and the service was impeccable. Now I see little difference."

I'd suggest a wait-and-see approach. The integration of Visions and Paragon was still going on this weekend.

For Dave Herzog of East Rutherford, the problem is fees levied by United Water and others for paying bills online. …

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