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 negotiates bank and credit card fees so you waste less money, save more, and live a financially healthier life. It’s your money after all, and we’re here to help safeguard it. Since Cushion’s launch in 2018, our customers have received more than $8 million in refunds. We leverage artificial intelligence, advanced fee-detection technology, and bank-level encryption to put money back into your account—quickly, efficiently, and securely. More than that, we equip you with the tools for success by providing the most up-to-date data and insights in banking, news, and financial wellness.