Sticking your money under the mattress is one way to keep it safe but if you’re like most people, you probably prefer to stash it in the bank. Unfortunately, that can open the door to some unnecessary headaches when you’re trying to manage your cash.

annoying bank policy image

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While banks are governed by federal regulations, they have some leeway on how certain rules are enforced. The guidelines may vary from institution to another, which only makes the problem worse. If you’ve ever had to deal with an annoying bank policy, you know just what we’re talking about. These nine policies are the ones that prove to be the most irksome for customers to contend with:

1. Time restrictions on transfers

When you’ve got multiple accounts with the same bank, you’d think that you’d be able to shuffle money back and forth between them, but that’s not always the case. Some banks restrict the processing window for transfers, which can result in major headaches if you need to add a little cash to one of your accounts. For example, I once belonged to a local community bank that didn’t allow you to transfer money between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m. That restriction became a problem on more than one occasion, and eventually I ended up moving to a larger bank.

2. Caps on daily debit card spending

The next time you’re planning a big purchase with your debit card, you’d better check first to see how much you can spend before you hit the store. Depending on where you keep your money, you may be stuck with a daily spending limit ranging from $100 to $5,000. That seems like a lot, but you could still come up short if you’re buying something big, like a TV, as this unhappy Bank of America customer found out.

3. Limits on mobile deposits

Mobile banking is designed to make putting money into your account easier but limits on how much you can deposit make it a headache for some users. The limits can start at $500 and go right on up to $10,000, based on who you bank with and how long your account’s been open. When your limit’s at the lower end of the scale, the service can end up being worthless if you’re still having to go the bank to make larger deposits.

4. Charging a fee for paper statements

Bank revenues took a steep dive after the housing market collapse and one of the ways they tried to make up for it was by introducing new fees. One of the most bothersome ones is the $3 to $5 that some banks charge just to get a paper statement in the mail. You can get out of paying it by opting in to electronic delivery but if you’re not computer savvy, that doesn’t do you much good.

5. Cancelling your cards without notice

Finding out that your debit card information has been stolen is the stuff of nightmares, and canceling the card can potentially stop would-be identity thieves in their tracks. The problem is that some banks are guilty of shutting down cards without giving customers a heads-up first. As one Neffs Bank customer (who found out about the cancellation the hard way when his card was declined) put it, it’s like having your money held hostage.

6. Shuffling debits high to low

Overdraft fees are big business for banks and a Pew research report released earlier this year suggests that the way debits are processed can work against customers. The report found that of 44 banks surveyed, more than half process debits starting with the highest amounts first, rather than following chronological order. The result is that customers are getting hit with multiple overdraft fees for all the smaller purchases that were made earlier but didn’t go through until after the larger debit cleared.

7. Lengthy check clearing times

One of the most frustrating aspects of banking is waiting out those few days between the time when you deposit a check and the moment it actually clears. While federal law mandates the delay, it’s up to the bank to decide how long you’re left hanging. Even if part of the deposit is made available the first or second day, you could be twiddling your thumbs for up to a week, waiting for the rest to hit your account if the check was for more than just a few hundred dollars.

8. Wait times to process refunds

If you’ve ever had an unauthorized charge show up your bank statement, you probably already know how much of a hassle it is to get it refunded. Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, banks have up to 10 days to decide whether to issue a refund and then it can take another 7 to 14 days to actually see the money. When it’s only a few bucks it might not seem like a big deal but it becomes more of a nuisance when there are several hundred or even several thousand dollars on the line.

9. Limitations on credit card payments

When you’re trying to whittle down your credit card debt, every penny you can throw at it counts. Making multiple payments throughout the month can help you to wipe out the balance sooner but certain banks limit the number of times you can pay. Discover and Chase, for instance, enforce a three-day gap between payments on the same account. That can be an inconvenient stumbling block when you’re focused on eliminating the debt.

If there’s something that your bank does that really ticks you off, we want to hear about it. Share the most annoying policies you’ve ever run into, in the comments below.

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  • whitney

    there’s a few reasons for the limitations and since I’m on mobile I will tackle the one that is probably most misunderstood.

    the check clearing thing. banks in us are under the federal reserve, who as you know, can influence and control the rate. when you deposit a check from another bank, bank A, into your bank B, bank B would generally make a certain amount available immediately, than clear the rest in a day or two.

    in actuality, Bank B, sends it to the federal reserve who talks to the bank A it’s drawn off of and federal reserve would claim the funds there, and than transfer it back to Bank A.

    Bank B never goes directly to A to claim
    this fund, or to talk about the availability or validity of this cheque.

    And if Bank B were to call, bank A, bank A, for the privacy of it’s customer, won’t tell Bank B anything.

    however, sometimes bank A will, if their customer is on the line to give permission or, Bank B will accept that the funds have cleared if they see it being cleared on Bank A side via transaction history.

    because it takes time for it to go from bank B>fed reserve>Bank A>fed reserve>bank B

    which is why sometimes you have a customer who is saying, hey, I see it clear from my side why isn’t it there?!

    • whitney

      I meant policies, not limitations.

    • Rebecca

      From my own experience, it seems like there’s a lot of discrepancy about how banks will clear checks and that’s what the average person has trouble with. For example, I once closed an account with BOA and took a very large cashier’s check to my new bank, which told me it would take 7 to 10 days to clear. Later on, I changed banks again and the new bank just called and verified the check and it was credited to my account within a couple of days. It’s really interesting how different banks operate within the same guidelines, if that makes sense.

      • whitney

        the second bank took the initiative to call, whether it’s because it’s a part of their service or because you prompt them by commenting on why it would take so long if it’s a cashiers check and guaranteed funds (it is in a sense but can also have stop payments placed on it)

        whichever scenario; that’s the difference of the outcome.

        the underlying doesn’t change, but how the banks choose to handle it differs, and it’s not really the bank but the people within. if they could take that extra step, and which is why it doesn’t hurt for customers to be proactive and ask.

        but ultimately if the lady or gentleman who called for the cashier check couldn’t get them to talk, that they might have waited a few days and decide to take a gamble and release it early, or when they called they got the ok and instead of releasing it right away, still decided to wait a few days.

      • David

        There are federal laws that regulate the time in which a bank must clear a check, and there are exceptions to these rules such as deposits over $5k, if a customer has had issues with overdrafts in the past, if a check was returned previously, etc. It all depends on the risk tolerance of the bank since there is so much check fraud. I have personally witnessed many fraudulent checks that are not returned by the maker for weeks, including cashiers checks. Typically fake checks are drawn off of large corporate accounts (information readily available since it is on their own checks) and due to the number of items that pass through these accounts it can take awhile before they notice a discrepancy. Most banks should clear checks within 2 days though, unless there is some special circumstance that allows for an exception under the regulation.

        • Rebecca

          My experiences have been different with different banks. I think customers understand that there’s a waiting period but it’s confusing when Bank A seems to do things one way and Bank B does it another.

  • John

    While that may seem to make sense to the author, it doesn’t always. Some of the items are rule related and that is the way the bank has to comply to the rule and some of it is done ultimately for the customer’s favor. Some times it is a decision to balance between the best of 2 evils. Cancelling your card for instance, banks many times are the ones responsible for the out of pocket fraud expenses since many of the rules are in the customer’s favor. While that only impacts 1 customer for say $200, for that bank it may be 1000 customers or 20,000 customers at that amount. They get stuck with the bill. If they didn’t cancel the card they would have to eat all the losses. If banks started doing that, they would have to find ways to recoup the losses, meaning more fees.
    I’m not here to justify all the items listed just to say this article doesn’t take into account some of the other risks related to the banks decision.

    • Rebecca

      That is a great point and from that perspective, it does make sense why a bank would go ahead and cancel a card at the first signs of fraud. I think what makes it frustrating for the customers is when their card is cancelled and they’re not finding out until they have a transaction that’s declined. It’s not the fact that banks are being proactive to avoid fraud that’s the problem; it seems to be the way they communicate with their customers (or don’t) that’s the issue.

  • SAF

    I just wanted to point out that the reference to Bank of America limits on purchases is a bit outdated to say the least. The the hyperlink takes you to an article from 2008! I’ve made quite a few purchases on my Bank Of America debit card for more than $6,000 and it has never been declined. Once they called me to verify I was making the purchase and that was it. Also, I learned from a branch associate that you can set your own limits online in case you want to make large purchases. Just FYI.

    • Rebecca

      That’s really meant to be more of an example of how annoying it is when you have a set spending limit, even though you know you have a lot more cash available in your account. I’ve never had an issue with that but I’ve never tried to spend $5,000 or $10,000 using my debit card either. I get why the banks have the limits (so people don’t run up ridiculous overdrafts buying things they don’t have money to cover), I’m more curious about why one bank might set it at $500 while another sets it at $5,000 for instance.