Debit card fees have been in the news quite a bit during the last week. Changes in federal regulations are leading some banks to shift the task of generating debit-card revenue from the merchants accepting debit cards to the consumers using them. Several national banks have recently announced plans to charge their customers a monthly fee if they use their debit card at any point during the month. In some cases, that fee would be as high as $5/month.
This is another great example of how Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union is a completely different institution than traditional banks. Sure, we all provide similar products and services, but the reasons we do could not be more different.
Banks have an obligation to their stockholders to maximize profits. When one income stream slows down or disappears they must look for an alternative revenue source to maintain their stockholders’ profits. In many cases, those profits come directly from their customers’ wallets.
SMCU, on the other hand, has an obligation to our members to make sure they get the best financial products and services for the best value. If the cost of offering a service changes, we have a responsibility to look for less expensive ways to offer that service.
SMCU is affected by the changes in debit card processing revenue, like every other financial institution. However, we have no intention of implementing a monthly debit card fee. We know that our members value the convenience and ease of using their debit cards to make purchases. Because we answer to them, not stockholders, we will continue to offer that service to them with no monthly fee.