It wasn’t immediate. In fact, for a moment, it seemed like those who were constantly bombarded with fees might actually be able to catch their breath.
In a previous article, Cushion reported that the average combined bank fees and interest charges per person per month decreased from $106.70 in March 2020 to $90.60 in April 2020. By August, though, it had risen to $130.60. At the time, it was the highest average that Cushion had seen since launching in 2018. For overdraft fees alone, the average fees more than doubled, from $34.23 per person per month in April to $70.68 in August.
In those early months of the pandemic, consumers could likely thank the dip in fees to governmental calls for banks, utility companies, and landlords to give people a break. Many people also received a $1,200 stimulus check to hold any potential overdraft fees at bay.
It was then that banks began to take action. They developed relief programs to aid their customers “in these unprecedented times,” but in creating these programs, they had to be wary of the time and resources needed to make the changes. Banks logistically couldn’t flip a switch to turn off all fees, and they also had to keep their bottom line in mind. Banks are businesses after all, with a significant portion of their income coming from fees. Their happy medium: Continue charging the fees, but offer a refund if a customer requested one.
By the end of 2020, fees were still climbing. In December, average combined bank fees and interest charges had risen to $163.35; overdraft fees per person per month had also risen to $100.77.
Fees rose for several reasons. In some cases, customers had overdrafted their account, often to put food on the table. Thinking they were in the wrong, they refrained from contacting their bank because they figured it was useless. For others, they didn’t have the time or energy to contact their banks. And for others yet, banks flat out refused them a refund.
Right now, it’s more important than ever for you to be vigilant about requesting refunds for your fees, whether you do it yourself or sign up for a service to do it for you.
This year has proven people’s resilience. They’ve been forced to do more with less, and somehow they’ve still managed to make progress on their debts — national credit card debt decreased $76 billion after the initial COVID-19 outbreak — as well as set money-related goals for the year to come.
Of the 87% of people have set financial goals for 2021, 6% have said that their goals are going exceptionally well so far, more than half have said that they’re making progress little by little, and another 33% said that they’ve fallen off the wagon but they’re determined to keep working toward their goals.
Now is not the time to give up on pursuing bank and credit card fee refunds. The key to success is being kind, patient, and persistent when negotiating with customer service representatives. Amidst a lingering global pandemic and economic recession, you should recognize your power and responsibility to fight for your hard-earned money. After all, the bank isn’t going to do it for you.
Cushion helps you waste less money, save more, and live a financially healthier life. We monitor your bank and credit card accounts 24/7, find and alert you about pesky fees, let you know which fees are negotiable, which banks are cooperative, and can even automatically negotiate on your behalf.* To date, Cushion has secured customers more than $11 million in bank and credit card fee refunds—and we’re just getting started.
*Cushion only negotiates fees with high refund odds. We cannot guarantee any negotiations, a regular frequency of negotiations, or fee refunds—your bank makes the final call.