As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!


ING Direct Electric Orange Raising Credit and Margin Rates

by Luke Landes

On May 16, ING Direct will change the rate is uses to determine the cost of overdrawing the Electric Orange checking account. ING Direct’s overdraft system is a little like Passover, where we ask how this bank is different than all other banks. Rather than charging an overdraft fee if you send an electronic check ... Continue reading this article…

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Chase Increasing ATM Fee to $5

by Luke Landes

Chase Bank can’t seem to stay out of the news. Last week, I mentioned that the bank was considering limiting debit card transactions to $50 or $100 as a protest against the industry’s regulation of interchange (swipe) fees. Today, there is news that the bank has increased the ATM fee for non-customers to $5 in ... Continue reading this article…

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Moving Away From Banks and Other Companies “Too Big to Fail”

by Luke Landes

The FDIC is progressing in its development of new rules that will apply to financial firms — not just banks — deemed “too big to fail.” The rules would establish procedures for unwinding companies whose failure would pose a threat to the economy, when that failure appears to be imminent. The government organization approved a ... Continue reading this article…

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Chase to Limit Debit Card Transactions to $50?

by Luke Landes

CNN Money is breaking this story right now. According to a company insider, Chase Bank is considering limiting debit card transactions at either $50 or $100. Any purchase you plan to make with your debit card that exceeds the amount — for example, your weekly groceries at the super market — would be declined if ... Continue reading this article…

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AAA Members Earn More Interest at Discover Bank

by Luke Landes

I’m a member of AAA, paying once a year for benefits like roadside service, travel assistance, and in some cases, discounts. AAA members can now earn a higher interest rate at Discover Bank than non-members. Currently, the rate for AAA members is 5 basis points (0.05 percentage points) higher than the standard Discover Bank online ... Continue reading this article…

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American Express Personal Savings Review

by Luke Landes
AmEx Logo

By far, the most requested review on Consumerism Commentary that I have yet to write is for the American Express Personal Savings Account. American Express offers one of the highest interest rates available with this savings account, making it very attractive from the surface. Once you own an account, how does it hold up against ... Continue reading this article…

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Fifth Third Bank Changes Debit Procedure

by Luke Landes

Some good news has come out of the class action lawsuits dealing with overdraft fees. The lawsuit against Fifth Third Bank still has one more hurdle to overcome, but most likely, customers who have paid overdraft fees for debit card transactions may see some or all of these fees refunded. Also as a result of ... Continue reading this article…

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Bank Branches Abandon Poor Communities

by Luke Landes

Whether banks are still dealing with the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, merging with other institutions, or taking advantage of increased automation opportunities, brick and mortar bank branches are closing more frequently than new locations are opening. According to the FDIC, 2010 was the first year in fifteen years that the balance tipped in ... Continue reading this article…

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My Business Bank Accounts: Checking and Savings

by Luke Landes

The economic environment is still not great for savers. Those who were smart or financially stable enough to have emergency funds and other savings accounts have been rewarded with low interest rates for the past few years. Take a look at these historical interest rates to see how low we’ve come. The good news is ... Continue reading this article…

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CNN Money’s 8 Least-Evil Banks

by Luke Landes

Out of the eight “least-evil” banks, as ranked by a staff reporter for CNN Money, I am a customer of two. Everyone who makes financial transactions of a regular basis or handles money in any form should have a checking and savings account at a solid bank that doesn’t attempt to charge its customers exorbitant ... Continue reading this article…

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Open a Yuan Bank Account in New York or Los Angeles

by Luke Landes

If you visit the Bank of China’s branches in New York or Los Angeles and bring two forms of identification and your cash, you have the opportunity to open a savings or money market account denominated in yuan (renminbi), the currency of China. The interest rate you’ll earn is low, but that would not be ... Continue reading this article…

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Zions Bank Online Savings Account Review

by Luke Landes

As of today, Zions Bank offers one of the highest interest rates among high-interest savings accounts. Is it worthwhile to move your money there to take advantage of this interest rate? Today’s interest rate environment is not the best for moving money from bank to bank in search of the highest rate, so the more ... Continue reading this article…

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Wachovia to Wells Fargo Transition

by Luke Landes

In addition to my bevvy of online savings accounts, I have standard, twentieth-century brick-and-mortar banking accounts, though only at two banks. I opened an account at TD Bank (formerly Commerce Bank) several years ago — because everyone loves being able to visit the branch on a Sunday. My primary branch accounts for personal and business ... Continue reading this article…

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Discover Bank Online Savings Account Review

by Luke Landes

Interested in opening a savings account at Discover Bank? Read this article first. Note: I’ve recently updated this review to indicate that transaction downloads for Quicken are now available. Last year, I noted that E*TRADE Bank will be moving some customers’ accounts to Discover Bank. The only customers affected by this move are those who ... Continue reading this article…

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Wells Fargo Direct Deposit Advance

by Luke Landes

Consumerism Commentary reader Yana wrote in yesterday to let me know about some changes in the terms for Wells Fargo’s Direct Deposit Advance service. At first, I was surprised that this service exists. At its core, the credit product offered by Wells Fargo is basically a payday loan, though it comes from a reputable financial ... Continue reading this article…

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PerkStreet $25 Checking Account Bonus With 2% Cash Back

by Luke Landes

When I first started paying attention to managing my money, depositing my money in an interest-bearing savings or checking account was one of the smartest financial moves I made. While it’s still one of the safest, banks are paying next to nothing on interest these days. Instead of moving money from one account to another ... Continue reading this article…

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FNBO Direct Online BillPay Account $25 Bonus

by Luke Landes

As of today, FNBO Direct is offering a better interest rate on the bank’s bill payment account than most other banks offer on high-yield savings accounts. If you apply for FNBO Direct Online BillPay soon, you could qualify for a $25 bonus. If you qualify for an account, FNBO will provide you with a check ... Continue reading this article…

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ING Direct Cash Back, SmartyPig Lowers Rate, and More

by Luke Landes

Here is what’s going on with some of my favorite online banks. For the next two months, ING Direct will be offering cash back for customers of the bank’s paperless checking account, Electric Orange. Every time a customer uses the ING Direct debit card for a purchase of less than $50, 1 percent of the purchase ... Continue reading this article…

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Chase Online Banking Website Down

by Luke Landes

Chase’s website for online banking has been unavailable since Monday night. After opening, receiving, an activating a new Chase credit card, a process I completed this past weekend, and purchasing my first items with the card, I was looking forward to checking my activity online today. Unfortunately, the downtime has prevented me from doing so. ... Continue reading this article…

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The Savings and Interest Rate Paradox

by Luke Landes

The Federal Reserve recently announced that consumer debt declined in July for the sixth straight month. The continuing elimination of personal debt is a positive development on an individual level. Consumers are buying less of what they don’t need and saving money whenever possible. At the same time that savings account balances are increasing throughout ... Continue reading this article…

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