Why I Finally Closed My Chase Bank Checking Account

After roughly 4 years as a Chase personal checking account customer, I finally closed my Chase Checking account to avoid the monthly maintenance fee, but I’m not happy about it.

Why I Opened My Chase Checking Account

I originally wanted a new bank account, because I had moved to a new town and needed a bank with conveniently located branches.

My new job also required that I set up a direct deposit, so I was searching for a basic checking account with no fees.

Chase was offering a Cash Bonus to Open a Chase Checking Account, so I decided to take advantage of that offer.

Plus, Chase had a few nearby branches that were close to where I lived and worked.

Although the Chase Checking account did have a monthly maintenance fee, you could avoid this fee with a direct deposit, so it was as good as a free account for me.

I opened my Chase Checking account, set up my direct deposit, collected my bonus cash, and didn’t experience any problems for a few years.

Why I Started Getting Charged Fees

After a few years, I moved on from my job and could no longer meet the direct deposit requirement to avoid the monthly fee for my Chase Checking account.

The funny thing is that Chase Bank did not actually start to charge my account for the maintenance fee after my direct deposit stopped.

I hadn’t met any of the alternative requirements to avoid the monthly fee, yet Chase waited for an entire 6 months before charging the first maintenance fee to my account.

I had pretty much forgotten about the Chase Checking fee altogether, until one day I saw that initial maintenance charge appear on my statement.

I realized I would either have to find a way to Avoid My Chase Checking Account Maintenance Fee or close my account altogether, because I certainly wasn’t going to pay for my once free checking account.

Why I Decided To Close My Account

In the end, the only viable option for me to avoid the monthly maintenance fee was to meet the debit card purchase requirement on a monthly basis.

Basically, I would have to make 5 or more debit card purchases each month to avoid the monthly fee.

However, I do not regularly use my Chase debit card, because I prefer to use my Chase 5% Cash Rebate Card to make purchases, so that I can earn a better rewards ratio on my spending.

Plus, I don’t like the idea of needlessly making debit card purchases in order to avoid a checking account fee, because I figure that the actual cost is the same in the end if not more.

So I decided that I would have to close my Chase Checking account.

How I Closed My Chase Checking Account

I suppose that I could have closed my account by phone, but I was driving by my Chase branch one day, so I just decided to stop in and finally take care of the task.

I was directed to one of their sales department members, who escorted me to their cubicle and asked how they could be of service.

I sort of dreaded this moment, because I just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible and not have to deal with their counter-sales measures, like pressuring me with reasons why I should keep my account open.

I indicated that I wanted to close my account today.

About My Banker

My banker was a 24-year-old guy who had previously been a car salesperson.

He had made over $60,000 in the year before the economy collapsed and under $20,000 in the next year, so he had to quit his job and ended up working at Chase Bank.

He has a unique first name and is the third generation in his family to carry it. His infant boy is the fourth.

His grandfather used to own a local car repair shop until he moved to the South and started a construction business building custom houses, but he passed away a few years ago.

My banker genuinely seemed like a nice guy, and I would probably have bought a car from him if I had pulled into a car dealer lot that day.

Reasons I Shouldn’t Close My Account

After reviewing my account details for a few moments, my banker came to the same inevitable conclusion that I had for my circumstances, which was that the only way to avoid my monthly maintenance fee was to make the required debit card purchases.

He did his best to explain how easy it would be to just make a few debit card purchases each month, like by purchasing lunch once a week with my debit card, although he agreed that it made more sense to use my cash rebate card.

In the end, he succumbed to the idea that it didn’t really make sense for me to make the debit card purchases, and that the best option in my circumstances was to close my account.

Closing My Chase Checking Account

After everything was said and done, the actual act of closing my account was an easy and quick process.

We completed some simple paperwork, I withdrew my remaining cash, and Chase closed my account.

Life After My Chase Checking Account

I did lose a bit of convenience with my Chase Checking account.

They have several branches near me, which made it extremely easy to cash my checks in person.

My closest bank branch now is Wells Fargo, which is in the next town over and about a 30-minute drive from my house, as compared to the 5-minute trip to my previous Chase branch.

I’ve reviewed checking accounts at other local banks, but they all seem to have some type of requirements to avoid a monthly fee.

I’ve even considered the new Chase Total Checking account, which now allows you to avoid monthly fees by maintaining a $1,500 minimum balance, but that just seems like another requirement that I may not want to deal with in the future.

For now, I’ve simply chosen to remain without a local bank to call my own.

I’ll miss my Chase personal checking account, but I definitely won’t miss the monthly fees that I could no longer avoid.

Comments

  1. Serge says

    With many state and out-of-state high yield checkings refunding all ATM fees worldwide and giving 3%+ interest on first 10K+ (with requirements met) and many local credit union and small banks offering a completely free checking, who needs big banks, other than getting the bonus and run?!

  2. says

    In the past I shopped banks many times and always came back to my big national bank. I like the convenience. My direct deposit yields me a free account. If it didn’t, my years with them hopefully would make it negotiable.

  3. Vince says

    I closed mine because they reshuffled all the people at my local branch and it was an awful mess. For years I could call my Banker with almost any question, now I would have to talk to six clueless people before they connected me to the seventh person, who would finally figure out what to do. Chase is doomed if they continue to lose their customer base. They lost me, and I don’t plan on coming back.

  4. Ken says

    My suggestion would have been to keep the account open and take a shortcut to meeting the requirement that you use your debit card 5x. When you fill up for gas, once a month just put $1 on the card. And then repeat 4 more times. You’ll miss out on the cash back rewards on $5 (at most, 25 cents). But you would have saved yourself the need to drive an hour round trip to deposit a check at a brick and mortar bank.

  5. Sven says

    The funny thing about this is you were willing to sign up for both a checking and savings account at wells fargo and do monthly automatic transfers. You were worried about the Chase “sales department” but you are now banking with the highest sales driven (called solutions) bank in the industry. You will have more products with them then you know what to do with in no time. Having been in the industry for some time and now a EVP in Banking I enjoy blogs like this but stories such as this one make me laugh. You are now willing to drive 30 minutes with gas at $4.00 a gallon when you could have simply opened and IRA or savings account and probably gotten a bonus to keep your relationship with Chase free. And now you will be earning less on your mentioned Chase cc. I wish you good luck with WF, and enjoy the credit card you didnt apply for showing up in the mail from them within the next few months.

  6. eX whY says

    You could have simply used the 5x reqmt to keep it alive.
    Depending on the frequency of use, you can consider the time+gas costs of driving around an hour.

    The best way to meet the reqmt is to pay your phone bill in $1 steps, five times. Agreed this wouldn’t save ya 5% cb as your Chase Freedom would but 5% of $5 is simply 5c per month – or 60c annually.

    On the brighter side, you can wait for ~6 months and then check out the promotions that chase offers for a new chkng acct. Usually they offer like $100-$150 for new signups.

    Goodluck

  7. says

    Hello Ken,

    That’s definitely a good idea for meeting debit card purchase requirements to avoid monthly fees or in order to obtain banking bonuses.

    However, for me personally, it seems a little bit like trading one inconvenience for a different inconvenience.

    Even though it’s a pretty easy task, I still don’t want to have to remember that once a month I need to make these special transactions at a gas station, and when I do stop for gas, I really don’t want to take the extra time and effort to make 6 transactions each visit.

    I realize that the extra gas and drive time to visit my now closest bank is also not worth while, but I would rather try to resolve that issue somehow than take on another task in my life.

    That is a great idea though, and I could have also done something like make 5 $1 Amazon gift card purchases each month, but it’s just not something I want to deal with for years to come.

    Thank you very much for commenting, I appreciate your suggestions.

  8. says

    Hello Sven,

    I actually just have a Wells Fargo checking account, because my former Wachovia checking account was transfered over to Wells Fargo during the merger, and I do not pay any monthly fees on my account at this time plus I do not have to meet any type of requirements as far as I am aware, as none of the Wachovia features have changed.

    My older Chase Checking account, which was grandfathered in, did not offer the linked deposit account option as a way to avoid the monthly fee, and even though the Chase Total Checking account does offer that option, it still requires $5,000 or more in linked deposits/investments, so that’s not necessarily a great option either.

    As far as Wells Fargo goes, I have found the transfer of my account from Wachovia to be an easy process with no issues, and I have had great experiences with them so far and found their bankers to be pleasant and helpful. Plus, my account has no fees, and I don’t have to meet any requirements. Wells Fargo has never tried to sell me any services during my visits or otherwise, and they have not provided me with any products that I did not request, so my personal experiences have been good so far.

    I definitely don’t want to drive the extra distance to my bank forever, but it’s a temporary inconvenience I will deal with whenever I have to visit my bank until I find a better solution.

    Thank you for your comments and good luck in the industry.

  9. says

    I closed my Chase account last week. Like you, it is the most convenient bank, but I got charged two fees because my account dipped below the $1,500 daily requirement. If they have used the averaged daily requirement, I would have been fine since both times I had a debit the day BEFORE I deposited money into the account.

    My Chase rewards card is the best rewards card in my wallet. But because of this, I am not sure it anymore it.

  10. Pennywise Yenta says

    Chase really is everywhere and therefore very convenient. I opened a checking acct when I found a $200 bonus deal that didn’t require a Direct Deposit. Then I found out there had been a $150 bonus if I had opened a savings account. I was getting bonus offers from Chase in the mail, but not for $150. Finally I found a $150 bonus which required a $10,000 deposit…but I only had t keep it there for a week! So I got my second bonus.

    Within the first few months I goofed a couple of times letting my account balance dip and got hit with service charges. I figured I’d head off the next one by depositing a large amount (temporarily) to bump my AVG DAILY BAL so I wouldn’t have to worry about the MIN DAILY BAL. A couple of days later I got hit with another service charge–I hadn’t kept track of the statement closing date.

    I was pissed and wanted my service fees refunded, so I left the large amount in my account to make the point that I was a Valuable Customer. I pleaded confusion around the rules and the closing date and got all but one fee reversed.

    Since then, I either keep the $1500 Min Daily Bal or I calculate how much I need to put into the account for how long (based on my lowest balance during that statement cycle) and do that. Here’s how:

    Let’s say I let my balance dip to $500 at some point. So there has been AT LEAST $500 daily so far. The Avg Daily Bal must be $5000, which would be $5K for 30 days…equaling $150K ($5K x 30). The $500 x 30=$15K. Subtract to find the difference: $150K-$15K=$135K. If I decide I have $10K I can move into the acct temporarily, I take the $135K and divide by the $10K to get the number of days I need to leave it in to reach the Avg Daily Bal I need…13.5 days. If I don’t have 14 days left in the statement cycle or I don’t want to leave extra money in the acct that long, I can calculate a new amount/days combo that will reach the total I need, eg $13,500 for 10 days, $27K for 5 days, etc. all add up to the $135K needed.

    Sorry if that’s clear as mud. It’s been working for me. I have accts at another bank on the way, so I can easily move cash around when I need to. One of these days, though, I will close the Chase acct because I don’t like having the service fee to think about. I keep it now because it’s convenient to pay my ($400 bonus!) Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card online from my Chase checking.

    I’m in my second year with the credit card–I really enjoyed being treated so well at the 800#, so I paid the $95 annual fee,figuring I’d earn it back in Rewards points. I already have broken even in the past four months. When I get a month from the annual fee in 2015, I’ll figure out my NET Rewards (after the $95) and will probably cancel the card and switch to using another Rewards card.

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