Financial Pet Peeve: Fees To Receive Paper Bank Statements

Today’s post is written by Tim of Faith and Finance. It was written for a blog swap run by the Yakezie personal finance blog network to answer the question “What is your biggest financial pet peeve?“

Chances are, you’ve probably received a few notices from your bank or investment company about receiving e-statements.  I’m all for getting less mail, and having online access to my statements is a really nice feature.  In fact, most of my statements are online now.

So why is it a pet peeve if I LIKE viewing statements online?  Here’s why:  If you don’t get the online version of your statements, many places will charge you for the paper statement.  My bank (which will go unnamed) pulled this very move.  If you want to receive paper statements you had to pay a few dollars each year for the ‘service.’  Now I understand that printing statements costs money, but what bothers me the most is that the bank continues to send junk mail even though I opted in to the e-statements.

It seems a little impolite to say “You have to stop using paper…but we’ll keep sending you stuff you don’t want in the mail.”  Each time they send me something in the mail promoting a new product or those goofy cash advance checks, I think about how much money they’re NOT saving.

***Ok ok, I’ll stop ranting.  That’s what happens when you’re challenged to write about a pet peeve…you get a little excited.  🙂

Solutions to the problem

I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to complain about something, you should be willing to suggest alternatives, so here’s what I’d do differently if I were the banks.

  1. 1. Don’t punish for paper statements, incentivize for online statements

If you want to connect with people online and save money in the long run, provide an incentive to make the shift to online statements.  Money and interest rates talk, so maybe provide $5 plus access to a higher paying certificate only available for our online banking members.

  1. 2. Consolidate the message.

If people want to get paper statements still, don’t charge them – instead, use the statement envelope to promote your products.  The envelope is already paid for, so why not use it for marketing purposes.  Now I know they’ll say, “people don’t read statement stuffers.”  To that I’d say, “what makes you think they’d read a dedicated mailer then?”

Those are my two cents.  Has anyone thought the same thing?  How do you feel about paper statements vs. online statements?

[Jason’s note: There is a fee that irritates me a lot more than paying to get a paper statement.  I hate “online access” fees.  Those are the fee where you get charged for other people doing less.   They are usually called convenience fees or, in the case of government, technology fees.]

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  • 18 comments

    Comments

    1. Thanks goodness my bank doesn’t charge me for paper statement. I would have to go through all the trouble of moving to a new bank then.

      • When my bank quintupled the fee for using the overdraft protection, I almost left. Then I realized that I hadn’t used that account for a couple of years and decided not to go through the hassle.

    2. I switched to electronic invoices, statements and bills. My main reason was to avoid shredding all these documents at some future time. I would not mind an incentive. From the bank’s point of view, it is a reverse incentive. If you don’t do it, their costs will go up and you will pay for it. I think we will pay for it one way or another.

    3. Agreed. I like paper statements. I find it annoying and time consuming to log into EACH account, and then I have to decide whether to print or not. Or maybe I should download into a folder on my computer???? What to do?

    4. Ah you hit the nail on this peeve! I recently got hit with fees since I didn’t sign up for receiving paper statements.

      This is a bank account I just opened! Atleast give me a notification that I have to instead of burying this detail in paperwork!

    5. I dont necessarily like that the banks are going this route, and even credit card companies as well. Though I am trying to be as “green” in my life as possible, so Im more than happy to switch to online statements. With the cloud becoming more and more popular, I even store my annual tax statements online.

    6. Very well said Tim! I guess they like the “junk” mail that they send because it has the possibility to save them money. Record keeping that helps us simply doesn’t make them money I suppose. haha. Charging for paper statements is also sort of unfortunate for older individuals that aren’t comfortable using email/the internet. They sort of get discriminated against.

    7. Hi Jason, You mean you file the statements unopened on your hard drive? I have so much stuff on my 2 computers and the multiple usb’s I try to use to keep organized, it’s a challenge trying to remember where I keep what.

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