How your checking account stacks up

“All banks showed there’s room for improvement,” said Susan Weinstock, director of Pew’s safe checking project.

Fourteen banks couldn’t even be ranked because details about their account policies aren’t available to the public without visiting a branch in person.

The lowest-rated banks included First Niagra Bank, KeyBank, Union Bank, Sovereign Bank and First Tennessee Bank. A full list of individual bank ratings can be found on Pew’s website.

Sovereign Bank ended up on the bottom largely due to its overdraft policies. Pew found that Sovereign reorders transactions from highest to lowest amounts to boost overdraft fees. The bank also charges overdraft fees when an ATM withdrawal leads a customer to overdraw their account—something many of the higher-ranked banks don’t do, according to Pew.

Union Bank, meanwhile, was found to have some of the worst account disclosures. Pew said it fails to provide an easy-to-understand summary of its terms and fees and isn’t clear about overdraft options and fees. Pew recommends that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the government’s consumer watchdog, introduce new rules requiring banks to clarify their disclosures and provide clear and fair overdraft options. It also wants the bureau to require banks to charge overdraft fees that are “proportional” to what it actually costs a bank to provide the service.



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