BBVA Compass Bank has joined several other financial institutions this week in revising their monthly fees for customers holding checking accounts. The changes, which will take effect on Feb. 15, will add new monthly service fees to the bank’s Built-to-Order checking account, and require greater vigilance from consumers hoping to avoid the fees.

What Will Change?

The bank announced on its website that customers who currently have Built-to-Order checking accounts or open one after Feb. 15 will have to pay a $8.95 monthly service fee if their accounts fails to meet at least one of three conditions:

  • At least one direct deposit of $300 or more from an unrelated 3rd party per statement cycle
  • The account has a $1,500 average daily collected balance, OR
  • The account is enrolled in the bank’s Compass Preferred Client Program

True to its name, Compass Bank’s Built-to-Order accounts allow customers to choose the features that fit their particular banking needs, with the first two automatically coming with the account. Those features include:

  • Free to use non-Compass ATM’s
  • Rebates for ATM fees imposed by other banks
  • Earn interest on your balance
  • Double CompassPoints
  • 5¢ cash back rewards on Check Card purchases
  • $25 anniversary cash bonus
  • One overdraft fee waiver per year

You won’t earn interest on your Built-to-Order checking account unless you choose to, and interest you do earn will vary both by state and the size of your balance. For example, California offers returns of between 0.05% and 0.10% based on balance amounts of as little as $0.01 to over $75,000. The bank’s financial health is decent, though the recent launch of its banking iPad application could entice some consumers to open an account with the bank despite stricter banking terms.

Don’t Qualify for a Built-to-Order Account?

Customers that don’t qualify for a Built-to-Order account, or have had trouble opening a checking account in the past, can open a Basic Checking Account with Compass Bank. Some of its features include:

  • No minimum balance required
  • Unlimited check writing
  • $11.95 monthly service fee
  • Free online banking and Visa® Check Card
  • $25 minimum opening balance

A Compass Bank representative told that customers can expect monthly service fees for the Basic Checking Account to increase by as much as $3.00 this February, so be on the lookout for an announcement of these changes if you have an account with the bank or plan to open one.

About the Bank

Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., Compass Bank operates 577 branches in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas and is among the top 25 largest banks in the U.S. based on deposit market share. As of September the bank’s financial health was assessed as ‘fair’ according to the Texas Ratio percentage, which is used to determine the extent of a bank’s credit trouble. Its customers on average gave it a two-star rating out of five stars, meaning customers of Compass Bank have had an overall negative banking experience with the institution.

Carolyn Okomo

Carolyn Okomo

Carolyn Okomo is a staff writer for Her columns cover general personal finance topics with a focus on financial literacy.
Carolyn Okomo
  • Michael DX

    Yeah they bait you in with FREE build to order checking. I thought it would be a great starter account for my kids, so I have 5 total BTO accounts with them. Well, only 1 of them qualifies to have the fees waived. This sucks. I’m in the process of changing banks. Probably going to USAA Federal Savings Bank.

    • Michael DX

      i have switched to USAA and LOVE IT! Should have done that years ago!

  • Guest

    Yeah, I might switch banks. This is ridiculous.

  • Cents

    When I set up my four accounts with Compass years ago they had full page ads in the papers in Okaloosa County FL advertising “free for life business checking”. Since I am not dead and neither are my businesses I believe this is a breach of contract and possibly would be a violation of the “bait and switch” fraud laws. If there is a class action suit over this ever I will be one of the first to sign on to it.

  • Mike

    I’m closing my Compass Back former “Free Checking For Life” account due to recent changes. IBC Bank Offers Free Checking accounts in Texas. Goodbye Compass Bank after 9 years, hello IBC!

  • Tvaughn

    As of October they now charge for out of network ATMs

  • heather

    If i wasnt on ssi ide not go with a bank at all. but by law i have to have a bank accound for my ssi.