Saturday, June 03, 2006

Access to a checking account

Yesterday I went to the post office to get a money order. I had to make a payment to a company that insisted on money orders. At the post office there was a lady on line in front of me who had a few bills in her hand, including phone, electric etc (no I was not being nosy). She proceeds to the counter and bought around 5 money orders. It then occurred to me that there are people out there without checking accounts.

Call me naive but with all the free checking account options I thought most people had checking accounts. Then I thought about it some more and realized that I live in an urban area with a high population of people for whom English is a second language. There is I believe an untapped market for banks to get new customers. It is also beneficial to these customers because they would be able to write checks for free instead of paying upwards of $1 for each money order. Purchasing money orders could add up to more than $10 per month or $120 per year.

I have two checking accounts. I was happy with my bank until I got a new job and realized there weren't any branches close to work. However, there were at least 5 Bank of America branches on my way to work. I opened an account with Bank of America last year and got $50 for doing so. The best thing since slice bread is online bill pay. All my regular bills are paid online. I make sure everything is scheduled on time. There is no need to balance my checkbook anymore (finally freedom). I log into the online banking every few days to make everything is ok. This makes my financial life a lot easier than writing checks, buying stamps and waiting for checks to clear.


Tim MMF said...

I had BoA for a while. The branch manager signed me up said it'd be free and I got a $60 gift card. Come to find out...they charged me a $3 fee per month. So I canceled my account. Just a heads up, keep an eye on your bank statements.

Anonymous said...

I had B of A for a while too. They were really great until something went wrong - my checkbook was stolen. They helped out wonderfully with the bounced checks, but dropped the ball big time six motnhs later when the thief walked in with my OLD account number and a fake ID and withdrew $3,000 from my NEWLY RENUMBERED B of A account! The police told me that the teller didn't even ask to see the fake ID.

This could happen at any bank (it was really just a bad teller), but be careful! I had to get the police involved to get my money back.

Paula said...

Even tho I have online bill pay, I still keep a check register to make sure that everything lines up. That way I don't accidently forget to write something down and I can double check transactions. I've saved myself several times doing this.