NSF Fees Shouldn't Exist

I don't think these fees should just be reduced, they should flat-out no longer exist. Perhaps they were once valid, but in 2019, 2020, and beyond, I reject the premise entirely.

Years ago, I can see the validity of such a fee, when things weren't fully automated, and a bounced check actually caused overhead in terms of a paper trail, humans having to do paperwork, and other inconveniences, not to mention issues of fraud.

However, nowadays, virtually everything is done digitally and automatically. The idea that BECU or any bank or credit union for that matter is somehow put out when you have a billing attempt on your account without sufficient funds to cover it, is simply no longer true. It's a complete falsehood.

In fact, not only are you NOT hurting your bank or credit union in any way, you're actually making them a lot of money. They WANT you to rack up those fees because those fees alone are a multibillion dollar industry. So, whenever your bank or credit union uses language to the effect of you having done something wrong that inconveniences them and therefore you're being penalized, it's complete theatrics from a literal script written by the marketing staff and really adds insult to injury.

The idea that it's your fault for being irresponsible is another common fallacy. For those of us who live paycheck to paycheck, it's not about being irresponsible; it's about being poor, which is an important distinction. And the fact that these fees can then make it difficult to cover the next bill that comes along, and can literally be the difference between eating or not, it's a vicious cycle. It's a rough irony, because those of us that get screwed by these fees the most, are the ones that need every single dollar we earn the most.

Here's a basic example: Say you just paid rent and bought groceries so funds are pretty low; you've got $15 left in your account. You then have an automated bill for internet, or TV, or whatever, for $20 come in between you just having paid rent and the next time you get paid. Oops, not only did BECU not do you any favors by actually covering the bill for you so that your service doesn't get shut off, they just slapped you with a $25 NSF fee, that just put your account into negative.

Remember, this is just an automated computer system that rejected the payment because you didn't have sufficient funds. Okay, good, that makes sense; the system is working correctly. But, why not just reject the payment like your card would be rejected at a restaurant and call it good? Where does this imaginary fee for $25 come from?

It's wrong. It might technically be legal (for now anyway — lots of financial establishments are actually getting sued and having to rework their policies because of these predatory practices), but it's definitely not moral.

I moved away from a bank to get away from overdraft fees, but these NSF fees are only a slightly lesser evil. I'm sure there's more to it behind the scenes that might actually help justify these fees, like perhaps even though they're kind of bogus, the system would collapse without the extra revenue, but I'd be happy to open up this debate to the community for anyone who thinks these fees are otherwise legitimate.

Thank you.

2 Comments
Community Manager

Thanks for your feedback @ideasmember, I've shared your comments internally for review. The good news is we offer our members ways to avoid being charged NSF fees altogether. Having a small savings account or LOC (Line of Credit) attached to your checking account will transfer available funds to your checking account to cover the negative balance and avoid any additional cost. If you have any questions, please give us a call at 800-233-2328. Thanks! JohnS

Sightseer

@JohnS

 

Thank you for responding, but this response is not helpful.

 

"Just have more money!" isn't a solution. If we had extra money, this wouldn't be an issue to begin with.

 

Also, you haven't offered any insight into the legitimacy of this fee. What hardship, inconvenience, or loss is BECU experiencing to justify a $25 fee? What is $25 covering?