United Bank is joining the slew of banks making changes to their various fee structures, but unlike the other banks, United has focused on their debit card transaction fee.

The Charleston Daily Mail reported the bank plans to increase their debit transaction charge from 25 cents to 50 cents. This 100% increase will cause many debit card users to re-evaluate their card use. This fee can add up over time if the debit card users are not careful. Making multiple separate purchases can leave you paying up to 1/3 of your purchase costs in transaction fees. For example if you made all the below purchases separately:

ItemCostPrevious Transaction FeeNewest Transaction Fee
Apple37 cents25 cents50 cents
Bottle of Water$1.5025 cents50 cents
Gum$1.3925 cents50 cents
Milky Way Bar89 cent25 cents50 cents

Nearly 50% of the money you spend on these small items would go towards transaction fees with the increase.

How To Avoid These Fees

Unfortunately the new financial regulations instated to protect consumers, do not protect against changes to debit card fees. The best way to avoid this fee is by using United Bank‘s debit card as a credit card instead (an option available with their cards). If the customer chooses the ‘credit’ option when paying for a product, they will completely avoid the transaction fee. Basically, any transaction that the customer will have to sign to complete will not result in an transaction fee.

The Charleston Daily Mail spoke with Steven Wilson, United Bankshares’ executive vice president, as he defended the increase, “The fee for the personal identification number-based debit card transactions has remained unchanged for years and was recently increased to bring the fee more in line with the market.”

Paying by credit card will help you avoid these fees, but for those who have problems with money management may find that constant use of credit will rack up debt. Those who do not have strong credit can pay by cash or check as another options. This move by United is bound to cost them some customers considering there are plenty of other banks that do not charge these point-of-sales fees for debit card use. Be careful if deciding to switch banks, while one may not have a debit card transaction fee, they may have new checking account fees that do not fit your banking needs.

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  • The_general_1968

    Unfortunately, the consumer is again being targeted by the government and the fed. It’s not the bank that is causing the problem. The government is regulating what card issuers can charge merchants, and because the merchant associations lobbied senator Durbin, he caved and wrote a last minute amendment into the financial bill that severely cut into the money that card issuers need to cover the cost of producing and distributing the cards, processing the payments and covering fraud losses. The end result is retailers get a huge cut in their costs at consumer’s expense. Just the opposite of what was supposed to happen. We need to repeal this amendment by logging on to the federal reserve website and letting them know we are opposed to the Interchange Fee Cap amendment (Durbin amendment)

    Regulation II – Debit Card Interchange Fees and Routing [R-1404]

  • Gregcarroll

    I switched FROM United two weeks ago precisely because of these “ridiculous” fees.  I don’t care whether Durbin or Republicans are to blame.  Bottom line:  I’m outta here!