Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Asterisk-Free Checking?

I typically just throw junk mail straight into the trash, forever to be unopened.  Although this weekend, in need of a new pizza coupon, I made an exception and quickly went through the bulky Valpak envelope I found in my mailbox.  While doing a quick scan to cherry pick a coupon from our local pizzeria, I was enticed by a different offer from Huntington Bank.

The coupon offers $100 free; just open an "Asterisk-Free" checking account.  I was definitely intrigued.  But before I impulsively grabbed my keys, ran to my car and got to a Huntington Bank, I flipped the card over.

Not surprisingly, their $100 offer isn't as "asterisk-free" as their checking account.  According to the fine print, "to get $100, all you need to do is open an new checking account by 7/31/13 with $100, then either set up an automatic direct deposit of at least $100 into your checking account OR make 10 debit card purchases in 60 days.  Do that, and the $100 bonus will be deposited into your new account within 90 days of account opening.  Remember, for tax purposes you will receive a Form 1099-INT from us for your cash bonus.  Checking account must remain open for a minimum of six months or an Early Account Closing Fee will apply.  Unfortunately, this offer is limited to one per household." 

I think when the average person (the type who would be enticed by a hundred bucks) hears a bank use the words asterisk-free, their default is set to skeptical.  Most people are all too familiar with discovering an unfamiliar deduction from their account and the deflating feeling that comes with those "gotcha" moments.  So even though the ad bold proclaims that asterisk-free accounts have, "No Monthly Checking Maintenance Fee, No Minimum Balance Requirement and No Monthly Debit Card Fee," most people know the asterisks are still in there somewhere.   

Most banks lost the privilege to use this term a long time.  I cannot say that for sure about Huntington.  But I think dangling this type of bait is a clue that we should still be skeptical.

As always, thanks for reading and sharing.  Feel free to add your take by clicking on the comments section below.

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