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How should you handle NSF policies in marketing your checking account?

By February 16, 2023Mark's Minutes

Overdraft/NSF – An unflattering history

As long as I can remember there has always been a “penalty” associated with writing a bad check. Historically, there was a lot of work that was created when a check bounced. It might take an institution a few calls and even hours to resolve the problem.

After the implementation of Check 21 and the move from paper checks to digital imaging, the risk posed by NSF checks and the operational energy for processing went down.

But like everything, the cost institutions charge consumers for NSF (non sufficient funds) has increased over the years. Today the average is $26.58 according to Bankrate’s 2022 checking account and ATM fee study. Average is just that. On the low end some charge about $10 and others as much as $40 per occurrence!

Depending on which statistics you rely on, the annual amount of NSF/Overdraft fees are in excess of $10B annually! And that is what is at stake for banks and credit unions.

Government initiatives to eliminate junk fees

While many institutions have voluntarily started reducing these fees, many more are reacting as a result of the likelihood of government pressure. In October of 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that they were taking action on “junk fees” (of which NSF/Overdraft is one).

These likely are part of the “exploitative or predatory fee” component in this initiative. They are described as “fees that far exceed the marginal cost of service they purport to cover.”

With all the improvements in process and productivity in the checking sphere, few can defend these fees. That’s why all the major banking firms are moving rapidly to re-write these programs.

Watch your competitor’s reaction to these changes

To believe that an institution can eliminate these fees from their products and happily move forward making significantly less margin is unrealistic. As these firms begin to reduce prices on these fees, they will inevitably have to increase prices of other items.

Pay close attention to your competitor’s checking product details. Not just the rate being quoted but all fees associated with the program.

How to leverage in your marketing efforts

According to The Financial Brand, the most important attribute for choosing a checking account was fees. If you are a value provider of financial services, you can likely win the war on the key areas that make up checking account fees by a simple comparison between your product and other major providers in your area.

Key fees to focus on would include:

• Monthly Charges
• Cost of Checks
• Overdraft Charges
• ATM Fees

Surprisingly, deposit rates were slightly lower in importance behind “convenient branches” in this 2020 survey. However, with the rate environment reaching new heights in 2023, deposit rates should quickly become a major focus in your advertising to aid in encouraging switching.

Thanks for joining me today!