With all the hype surrounding the explosion of mobile banking and other brand new emerging technologies, it’s easy to overlook the simpler aspects of banking, like cashing a check. After a recent wave of checking account-related fee increases, TD Bank is quietly sliding in this brand new one.
For non-customers, cashing a check that draws on a TD Bank account will cost $5 starting February 1, 2012, according to a TD Bank customer service representative. Since TD Bank (NYSE: TD) recently raised fees on services such as wire transfers and money orders, we can just group this new fee with the rest.
Other banks have adopted this practice in the past while some chose to keep the service free. Chase (NYSE: JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) both charge $6 to cash their checks for non-customers, while Citibank chooses to keep this service free with proper identification as long as the check is under $5,000 – any more and they won’t pay out.
New Fees Target Underbanked
While the banked community may furrow their brow and keep in mind to not go to TD Bank to cash checks, day-to-day operations will remain the same. However, the underbanked are the real losers from this new fee. For them, it means another bank will charge them to cash a check, from TD Bank itself no less, further legitimizing and strengthening alternative cash-checking services.
The convenience of certain banking operations has caused banks to raise fees or attempt to impose new ones. The most infamous example is of course the horrible Bank of America $5 debit card snafu, which flopped after the entire banking community revolted.
It is a fact of banking that fees will be raised, and yet no other bank has managed to infuriate customers as much as BofA. This simple, new fee from TD Bank helps to illustrate why.
Unlike BofA’s debit card fee, this check-cashing fee will be imposed on non-customers, which most would agree is acceptable. No one would get upset at their own bank for charging non-customers for its services. If anything, this would deter non-customers from using the service, keeping lines shorter.
Granted the checks in question come from TD Bank so they can easily verify the money is in the account, but when you enter a different bank you know you are subject to their rules.
For non-customers who regularly cash TD Bank checks (probably not many), the cost-cutting move would be to open a checking account at any financial institution (not just TD Bank).
A TD Bank spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.