Wainwright Bank does well accommodating seniors, people with disabilities

I found out something that made me really happy today. Wainwright Bank allows customers to choose whether they want overdraft protection on their accounts. To give a little background, having overdraft protection means that if you write a check, withdraw money, or make a debit card purchase beyond your available balance, the transaction will go through, but you'll get charged a substantial amount, between $20 and $40 or so at most banks. The benefit of this is that if you really need to pay for something right then and there, you just have to pay a fee, which can be better than, say, being stranded somewhere. The downside is that if you lose track of what's in your account or a deposit didn't clear when you thought it would, you start racking up a fee for every transaction you make.

Many of the large banks have overdraft protection as a standard feature on every account. I know that Sovereign Bank and Bank of America do. Both banks say there is no way to take the feature off, even for seniors or people with cognitive disabilities. I've worked with several people with disabilities who lost track of what was in their account, went and made several couple-dollar charges for coffee or grocery items or whatnot, then found out they'd gotten a $35 charge for each transaction. So they ended up closing their bank accounts and resorting to using check-cashing places and carrying large amounts of cash.

The representative at Wainwright told me that they specifically offer this option with elders and people with disabilities in mind. They're aware that many people don't have the ability to balance a checkbook, but are basically capable of managing their money on their own. She also told me that if someone does incur a fee and calls customer service, they'll usually just waive the fee. As she put it, "We're a bank; we already make money just by having customers, so it isn't like we lose money if we waive a fee for someone."

The only downside to not having the overdraft protection is that some places like gas stations and hotels will authorize your card for a set amount, like $50 or $75, so it might be declined at a gas station if you have only $20 in your account and want to buy $10 worth of gas, but the gas station might be set up so that it declines the card if a charge of $50 won't authorize.

Still, it's nice to have the choice.

1 comment:

MoonRaven said...

I really like Wainwright. It's my bank, and although it can sometimes be a little more corporate than I like (I really like small, local banks), they do think well about things and they are good on so many issues...

Why would any thinking person use Bank of America???