By  Updated on Fri Jun 29, 2012

New Fifth Third Bank’s Checking Accounts Push Relationship Banking

New Fifth Third Banks Checking Accounts Push Relationship Banking

Bill Rice / Flickr source

As part of an extensive makeover to its deposits accounts, Fifth Third Bank unveiled a new line of checking accounts — many of which carry terms that reinforce growing trends in the banking industry.

This week, Fifth Third Bank consolidated more than 40 checking and savings accounts to five core checking accounts and three core savings accounts. Electronic banking and deeper customer relationships are some of the themes that are evident in the new lineup.

“We conducted extensive research and talked to thousands of customers to understand what they need and expect in an account and banking relationship,” said Stephanie Honan, a Fifth Third Bank spokesperson. “We used this feedback to redesign our account lineup into these simple, straightforward solutions.”

The new checking accounts include, in order of increasing monthly fees ranging from $0 to $25, eAccess Account, Essential Checking, Established Checking, Enhanced Checking, and Preferred Checking. Every account comes with either discounted or complimentary identity theft protection, a built-in service that customers said was valuable to them, said Honan.

Banking without paper

The new eAccess Account slightly resembles Bank of America’s eBanking account, which requires customers to sign up for online statements and make deposits and withdrawals electronically or at an ATM to avoid a monthly fee. Fifth Third Bank’s eAccess Account requires monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or more, no check-writing and no paper statements.

However, the eAccess Account doesn’t come with a monthly fee. Instead, if customers fail to meet the account requirements for three consecutive months, the account will be converted to an Essential Checking account, which does come with a waivable monthly fee.

Both of these accounts cater to consumers who mostly conduct their banking online. As more banks realize they can cut operating costs by reducing customer demand for paper and bank tellers, they begin to restructure their accounts to discourage this more expensive way of banking.

Benefits to having more accounts

With a Fifth Third checking account, the monthly fee on savings accounts are waived and there is a 0.25% rate discount on installment loans set up for automatic payments.

Climbing the tiers of Fifth Third’s checking accounts, customers get more comprehensive benefits including better rates on savings and money market accounts, CDs and loans and lower fees on brokerage accounts.

Not only do the perks encourage customer to have more Fifth Third accounts, fee waiver requirements do that as well. With the exception of the eAccess Account, all of Fifth Third’s new checking accounts consider other Fifth Third accounts when calculating the total monthly balance to avoid the monthly fee (Essential Checking counts checking and savings only).

For the past year, one of the biggest predictions by industry experts and analysts in banking has been an increased emphasis on building deeper relationships with customers, which means having more accounts at a single bank. By having finances at one place, there is a level of convenience and benefits that consumers prefer — making it a hassle to leave a bank.

The strategy appears to be working — Bank Transfer Day wasn’t as successful as it appeared.

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