Banks may carry tarnished reputations for having taken advantage of their customers in the name of profits, but some customers have nickel-and-dimed banks for years as well.Customers who do not contribute to a bank’s profits have been commonly coined as “deadbeats”. They do not pay fees on their checking accounts, or interest charges on their credit cards. Their meticulous money management habits yield little in profits from the customer-bank relationship.
But, some customers will go as far as making money from banks or abusing lenient bank policies for financial gain. Whose to feel bad for banks over this form of predatory consumerism?
Stepping onto the other side of the fence, here are some ways customers have exploited banks:
Sign-Up Bonuses: Rinse & Repeat
Banks will regularly promote their accounts with sign-up cash bonuses to attract new customers.
Chase is notoriously known for offering cash bonuses from $100 to $200 when customers open a new Chase checking account.
They sign up, fulfill the requirements to receive the bonus while avoiding monthly fees, and then close the account after six months (minimum time period that the account must remain open). Chase limits account-related bonuses to one per customer, per calendar year.
So, when the new year comes around, the customer would sign up for a new Chase checking account with a cash bonus, again.
Buy Money and Earn Cash Back & Rewards
Imagine earning cash back and rewards for no-fee cash advances on a credit card – like getting a perk when you buy cash, which is entirely possible.
Using a cash back or rewards credit card, consumers can buy $1 gold coins from the U.S. Mint in increments of $250 with free shipping and handling (up to $1,000 for every 10-day period). After paying off the bill, the result in a higher cash back or points balance and boxes of $1 gold coins.
Spending boxes of $1 coins can be difficult and inconvenient. According to the U.S. Mint, “The immediate bank deposit of $1 coins ordered through this program does not result in their introduction into circulation and, therefore, does not comply with the intended purpose of the program.”
But, many people who buy these coins for the purpose of netting cash back and rewards have been successful depositing freshly rolled $1 gold coins at banks while some banks rejected them.
Depending on the cash back or rewards earning rate, this strategy can be lucrative venture.
Slap on the Wrist for Early CD Withdrawal
Certificates of deposit tend to offer higher returns compared to savings accounts because they lock money in for a set time period – the longer the commitment, the higher the return. Take money out early and get hit with a penalty proportional to the maturity term.
But, savers can abuse CDs with merciful early withdrawal penalties.
Ally Bank has friendly early withdrawal penalty of 60 days worth of interest, regardless of the CD maturity term. With $10,000 invested in Ally’s 5-Year CD that is earning 2.40% APY (as of 5/4/11), the CD would have paid $240 after 12 months. Withdraw the entire CD amount, subtract the early withdrawal penalty, and the net interest gain is roughly $200.
Therefore, an early-withdrawn 5-Year CD from Ally pays 2.00% APY after one year. The current leading, nationally available 1-year CD from Ascencia Bank is paying 1.25% APY.
‘Fat Cat’ Customers?
While none of these tactics will boost one to wealthy ranks, it is realistically possible to amount several hundred dollars extra per year. Diligent money managers have the potential to profit more.
Many customers who’ve been nickle-and-diming by banks have used and continue to use these schemes to return the favor.
How do you feel about customers who hurt the banks’ bottom lines, which trickles down to other customers? Do you have other examples of customers taking advantage of banks?