One of the most basic and essential banking services—and the gateway to establishing credit—may now be a privilege only for the well-to-do, or at least the financially stable and predictable. Need to pay for basics, like housing and utilities, with a check? You may pay more to do so than your higher-earning neighbors.
In January, Bank of America announced the end of its Free Checking service. The bank was one of the largest, and only remaining, brick-and-mortar banks to offer this service. Existing customers are now funneled into the bank’s Core Checking program, an option that requires customers to keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or make at least one direct deposit a month of $250 or more. If your balance dips below that point, you’ll be charged $12 a month. In other words, if you don’t have enough money to meet those qualifications, get ready to get more broke.
Going to the emergency room? Even with insurance, you may still get hit with shocker bills. A practice called balance billing allows hospitals to overcharge for services, leaving the patient to cover any amounts their insurance company considers excessive. Hospitals often contract with third-party staff or service providers, causing unsuspecting patients to be charged out-of-network prices for services at an in-network facility.