Friday, June 26, 2009

My bank is weird.

Okay, all banks are weird. Here's the deal. I was on the verge of an overdraft today. I had a pending charge that, once it went through, would have caused an overdraft. No big deal, I mis-calculated the amount of my coming charges. The overdraft would have been by $2.50 or something. I had a check and some cash, however my bank has held checks (for 5 days) in the past when I deposit them while in overdraft (which they kindly told me AFTER they deposited the check, so I couldn't just go cash the check at it's bank and deposit cash solving all problems).

I go to my bank and talk to the teller, hoping to get a good idea of how their system works so I know how best to deposit this money.

First of all, I asked if pending charges all go through at midnight. If so, I could have deposited cash immediately to avoid any chance of an overdraft, or so I thought. The cashier says they're 'not supposed' to tell us when pending charges go through. So you know but you won't say? Also, why wouldn't all pending charges go through at midnight, same time my deposits go through?

But wait, there's more.

I let that go and continued. Since I'm not in really in overdraft, they won't put a hold on my check, right? She said the system is different than it used to be, it depends on the account the check is drawn from as well as other things. She couldn't tell me what the 'other things' were. I think A) she might have meant personal vs payroll checks, and B) these changes in their system are due to recent laws preventing banks for sitting on checks for, oh, five days. Once again, they know but won't tell me.

Okay, well if I deposit cash that goes into my account instantly, right? So the overdraft will be absolutely averted and then I can confidently deposit the check? She can't tell me that either (She was very apologetic about all the things she couldn't tell me. She was actually very nice and I could see her hands were tied). Cash doesn't get credited to my account instantly. It's available instantly, but it's not officially in my account until midnight, same as a check, and she couldn't say what would go through first, the pending charge or the cash. I want to point out that sometimes charges sit for days before going through, so it might not be a problem at all.

Moving on, I asked if she could at least cash the check so it can be deposited as cash. That way if there is an overdraft there at least wouldn't be a hold. No dice. She looked in the system and couldn't put it in as cash. She said it could be their account or my near-overdraft. This is a paycheck, and I've ones from the same account there before with no problems.

As a brief side note, it just occurred to me that they did put a hold on one of these checks before, but it was around $5000, and that puts it into the boundaries of checks they can hold for longer periods of time. Once again, they told me that AFTER they went ahead and finished the deposit. Because I probably didn't need access to that money, right?

Finally, she tells me that if I put the cash in with the check, there's a good chance the cash would prevent the overdraft and my check would be put in instantly (these transactions would all be going through at midnight, you follow?). I take this as her way of telling me this is what I have to do to prevent an overdraft. She's looking at my account on her screen, she can't tell me things but she knows them nonetheless so I decide to go along with her judgment. I start to deposit the check, and ask, "$100 will be available from this check instantly, right?" No, that's only with ATM deposits. That's odd, I guess it's because at the counter you can deposit a check and take cash from it at the same time, so you get a similar (consolation) option at the ATM.

I decide to go to the ATM instead. The ATM is new and cool, but I'll go into that in a later post. All in all I think I might have actually left more confused than I was when I came in. Why do they need to keep these things from me? Why can't banks do things instantly instead of waiting till midnight? Okay, scratch that last one, if they did everything instantly I would have had an overdraft. I've got half a mind to ditch my bank in favor of one of those pre-paid VISA cards. Hmm...


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