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Some banks in Valley end rewards program



Published: Thu, April 7, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

BANK PROGRAMS

What’s offered

A quick look at bank programs:

debit rewards

JPMorgan Chase

PNC

Seven Seventeen

Cortland Banks

Huntington Bank

Farmers National Bank

Citibank

free checking

PNC

Seven Seventeen

Home Savings and Loan

Huntington Bank

Consumers National Bank

First National Bank

Farmers National Bank

First Place Bank

Cortland Banks

ending/altering debit rewards

Chase

PNC

Re-evaluating debit rewards

Citibank

re-evaluating free checking

Consumers National Bank

First National Bank

Source: Banks

By Kristen Russo

krusso@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Mahoning Valley residents enrolled in debit-card rewards programs or free checking accounts could see those programs ending in coming months.

Banks are citing the federal Durbin Amendment for their decision to alter or end their customers’ participation in these programs.

The amendment is a proposed change to financial regulations that would cut the interchange fees banks charge merchants when consumers make debit-card purchases.

It would slash the fee from an average 44 cents per swipe to a maximum 12 cents per swipe starting July 21.

Finance heavyweights are fighting the plan, with several bills in Congress to amend the law.

The cuts to rewards programs come as banks try to recoup some of the billions of dollars they expect to lose from the proposal.

Mary Kay Bean, spokeswoman for JPMorgan Chase, said the bank ended its debit rewards for new customers in February.

Bean said reward programs for all other Chase customers will end July 19, but the points earned will not expire.

“We’re going to look for other ways to provide value for our customers,” Bean said.

The bank still offers no-fee checking accounts for customers who have one direct deposit per month of at least $500, make at least five debit-card purchases per month, or maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $1,500, according to its website.

Citibank still offers debit rewards, but is re-evaluating the program, said Natalie Marin, said a spokesman at Citibank.

The bank offers a no-fee checking account for customers who complete five or more qualifying transactions per month.

In September, debit rewards will end for PNC’s free-checking customers, said PNC spokesman Fred Solomon.

Solomon said PNC will continue to offer debit rewards to customers who have performance checking accounts, which require a minimum balance of $1,500.

PNC has no plans to stop offering free checking accounts, Solomon said.

Consumers National Bank and First National Bank, neither of which offers a debit rewards program, are re-evaluating their free checking accounts , said Kathy Hammons, communications and public relations manager for First National Bank, and Ralph Lober, president and chief executive officer for Consumers National Bank.

Lober said there had been talk about offering debit-card rewards to Consumers National Bank customers, but it ended last summer.

“When talk started last summer about what was going to happen with the interchange rates, we put it on hold until the dust settles,” Lober said. “If it stays the way it is right now, there is no way we could afford it.”

Seven Seventeen Credit Union has no plans to change its debit-card rewards program or its free checking accounts, said Eric Lanham, senior vice president of marketing there. But he did say that could change.

“Given the proposed changes with the Durbin Amendment, I think that’s something that all financial institutions will have to look into if that amendment comes to pass,” Lanham said.

Huntington Bank will continue to offer free checking. Matthew Samson, communications manager for retail banking at Huntington, said the bank has not heard of any plans to alter its debit-rewards program, which is offered through Visa Extras.

Cortland Banks and Farmers National Bank will continue offering debit rewards and free checking accounts with no immediate plans to alter them.

First Place Bank and The Home Savings and Loan Company do not offer debit rewards, but both will continue to offer free checking.

Key Bank and U.S. Bank did not return calls seeking information about their debit rewards or free-checking programs.

Information from The South Florida Sun Sentinel was used in this story.


Comments

1SpotBanks(1 comment)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Why push congress to change bank policy when you (as a consumer) already have the power to implement change. Stand-up, voice your complaints, and demand that banks give you what you want! If you ran a local bank, and the majority of your customers demanded change -- would you listed? Consumers have free will, and the right to choose where they bank. If you bank does not provide the service you want, then go to another bank or ban-together with others to demand change! http://www.spotbanks.com/home/default...

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