A destitute student’s guide to over draft fees

If you have a Bank of America debit card (their motto: “we care”), then there is a good chance you already know of their evil way of not denying your card when you are over your limit on funds. If you don’t know this, then, join the club. Apparently they let you keep spending your non-money, meaning that for every $3 Frappuccino purchase you go over, you get charged $35! Yes, there are many things wrong with this, but there are some loopholes that may alleviate some of the pain of four (or more) overdraft fees. Please use at your own risk.

1) Do not start whining into the phone because that will make the money-hungry Bank of America representatives feel more powerful. Always remain calm and explain your situation (namely that you are poor).

2) Be prepared that when you tell them this, they will either (a) care or (b) not give a hoot. If they care, then the next step is for you to reiterate the fact that you have a low allowance and this is your first card and so on. This is the point of the conversation where they will either want to get you off the phone and remove your overdraft fee, or enter mode (b) not give a hoot, during which they will tell you there is nothing you can do. What to do when this happens?

3) Attempt one more time, in an exasperated yet non-whiny tone, to ask them to please help you. If they snap and promptly hang up, you ask to speak to the man, the boss, the supervisor.

4) The Bank of America supervisor is the person who will either help you or leave you doomed with future bad credit. The supervisor can either be nice and remove your overdraft fees (in my case he took off two fees) or simply tell you, “Be more responsible next time.” Thank you, Dad? Anyway, if the supervisor does not help you either, then, I’m sorry, there is nothing to do but suck it up and see it as a learning experience.

5) Oh yes, I forgot to mention one more thing. The Bank of America supervisor, believing he is teaching you a life lesson, may suggest a free credit report. Do not be fooled. This free credit report is only free for the first 30 days, which raises my question: Bank, why do you think I have all these overdraft fees? Obviously I cannot afford stupid “free” credit reports if I am head over heels in debt!

I’m sure most college students are responsible adults who never get in debt, but for those that do, just remember that there is not much sympathy out there for us. The banks should have some system for college students where we can buy as many Frappuccinos as we want without acquiring debt. But they don’t, so for now just remember, you are not alone.

Lisa Magedler is a junior majoring in creative writing. She will not be found in Starbucks for the next 90 days and may be contacted at l.magedler@umiami.edu.

April 24, 2008


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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