4 Bank Perks You Probably Don’t Know About

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Whether you’ve got the big bucks or are working on it, it’s nice to know that some banks out there roll out the red carpet for loyal customers. Not only do they promise to manage your funds smartly, they offer a variety of services to make the experience that much better. Here, we’ve outlined some of the lesser-known perks that are currently lurking in Bank Land.

1. Bank of America Preferred Rewards

For those with a minimum $20,000 balance in their Bank of America and/or Merrill Edge or Merrill Lynch investment accounts, the company offers a three-tiered program aptly titled Preferred Rewards. Twenty-thousand smackeroos will grant you gold status, which means a helpful 5% interest hike on money market accounts, plus a 25% rewards bonus on credit cards. With platinum status, which requires a minimum balance of $50,000, the perks include up to 12 no-fee transactions from any non-BOA ATM for a year, a 10% money market account boost and a 50% credit card rewards bonus. (Like the sound of credit cards that reward you for using them? See our roundup of the best ones in America here.)

2. Chase Private Client 

Open to customers who maintain an average daily balance of $250,000 or more “in any combination of qualifying linked deposits and investments,” its site says, Chase Private Client is basically a dream concierge for your finances. Members get the VIP treatment with a Private Client Banker, plus access to travel benefits such as rushed replacement of debit or credit cards almost anywhere worldwide, a 24/7 U.S.-based service line, a discount of $750 on closing costs on all home loans, and so on. For arts buffs, the access to local culture and events — think free admission to world-class museums like the MoMA — is also worth writing about.

3. Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking Account 

If ATM fees are slowly draining your checking account, perhaps a change of banks is in order. Schwab Bank offers no ATM fees worldwide with this checking account, plus there are no monthly service fees. Members also can earn interest on their balance. (Not sure where your finances stand? You can view two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, with a free snapshot of your credit report on Credit.com.)

4. TD Personal Checking 

Considering applying for a home equity line of credit? If so, TD Bank has an offer to sweeten the deal: “Checking customers receive an extra 0.25% discount off our already low variable rates,” its site says. Be sure to check with your local branch for more details.

Remember, it’s important to read the fine print of any financial product you’re considering to be sure it’s right for you. And, if you’re interested in bank perks, you can also check to see what your current financial institution offers. There may be some options you have, but don’t know about.

At publishing time, Bank of America and Chase products are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

 

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms forcredit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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Wells Fargo Fined $185 Million Over Fake Credit Card & Deposit Accounts

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Thousands of Wells Fargo bank employees seeking sales bonuses participated in a scheme that led to the opening of roughly 2 million unauthorized accounts, federal regulators said Thursday. For failing to monitor an incentive program that spun out of control, leading to “widespread” abuse of consumers’ information, Well Fargo must now pay the biggest-ever penalty levied by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the agency said.

At the root of the scheme was a program that gave bonuses to employees who convinced existing customers to give more of their business to Wells Fargo — cross-selling checking account customers on new credit cards, for example.

But back in 2011, Wells employees started opening accounts for consumers — and moving account-holders’ money into them — without their consent or knowledge.

“Thousands of bank employees found ways to game the system by secretly signing up existing clients for new services that were never requested,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. “They misused consumer names and personal information to create new checking and credit card accounts to inflate their sales figures to meet their sales targets and claim higher bonuses. Money that belonged to customers was used and moved around without their consent, and in some instances these activities generated new fees and costs.”

Wells workers went so far as to create email addresses that did not belong to their customers and use those new addresses to enroll people in unwanted online-banking services, the CFPB said.

According an analysis conducted by Wells, employees opened roughly 1.5 million deposit accounts, and another roughly 565,000 credit cards, that may not have been authorized by consumers, the CFPB said. Some consumers ended up paying overdraft fees, or facing other financial penalties, because of the unauthorized activity.

Wells has been ordered to pay a $100 million civil penalty, and to refund harmed consumers. The bank will also pay an additional $35 million penalty to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and another $50 million to the City and County of Los Angeles.

“Unchecked incentives can lead to serious consumer harm, and that is what happened here,” Cordray said. “Today’s action should serve notice to the entire industry. If the incentive compensation schemes or sales targets are implemented in ways that threaten harm to consumers and lead to violations of the law, then banks and other financial companies will be held accountable.”

In a statement, the bank said it had terminated managers and team members “who acted counter to our values.”

“Wells Fargo reached these agreements consistent with our commitment to customers and in the interest of putting this matter behind us,” the statement read. “Wells Fargo is committed to putting our customers’ interests first 100 percent of the time, and we regret and take responsibility for any instances where customers may have received a product that they did not request.”

John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo, also sent an email to employees today, which the firm made public.

“Our entire culture is centered on doing what is right for our customers. However, at Wells Fargo, when we make mistakes, we are open about it, we take responsibility, and we take action. Today’s agreements are consistent with these beliefs,” the email read. It told employees to report ethics violations on an anonymous “EthicsLine,” or to their managers or Human Resources adviser.

“As difficult as today’s news is, this is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to our customers, doing all that we can to put their interests first,” Stumpf wrote.

Customers can keep an eye out for unauthorized credit accounts by regularly checking their credit. You can so by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

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