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Free Checking Dying Off With Small Banks

However, not all community banks agree that regulations will mean the end of free checking. New York Community Bancorp (NYB) will not be switching its free checking option says Andrew Kaplan, executive vice president of retail products and services.

"If the Durbin Amendment were to go into effect in July, our bank will continue with the free checking account," said Kaplan. "We have no intentions to implement minimum balance fees on our products, but we have to keep an eye on our consumer debit card income and expenses. We may have to put limits on how much consumers can spend using debit, which is inconvenient for the customer."

Kaplan adds that customers thinking of switching banks should think about what services besides checking they use and how they want to be treated.

"Customers have to take a look at their entire needs," said Kaplan. "Reward programs and free checking accounts may go away at some banks, but the overall organization remains the same. There is a perception banks are being less consumer-friendly, but that is not necessarily the case, different companies have different benefits."

Community banks have been able to do business by showing customers more personalized service. In order to do that smaller banks have to know their customers and their customers' needs. Customer service will not change even as banks change products and pricing going forward, said Steinour.

"At the larger banks, customer service gets lost and frankly is not even valued," said Steinour.

--Written by Maria Woehr in New York.

To contact the writer of this article, click here: Maria Woehr.

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