The offer seemed simple enough to this journalist from the Huntington Bank promotional flier received in the mail. New customers to the bank could deposit $100 into a new Huntington Bank checking account, and as long as they performed certain requested bulleted actions, such as using the new account to perform at least 10 debit card transactions within a certain 60- or 90-day period, a free $200 would be deposited into the new account as a promotional offer.
As promised, after I deposited $100 into my new account on January 23, 2014, which was conveniently opened online at Huntington.com without having to visit a branch, the $200 “promotion incentive – thank you” appeared on January 27, 2014, well before expected. Still, I dutifully performed 20 debit card transactions by February 18, 2014, in keeping with the regulations set forth to obtain the $200 free offer.
All that glitters ain’t gold
The balance in the so-called “Huntington Plus Checking” account dipped to $3.95, so I gleefully left it alone until April, when I was surprised to see a “monthly checking fee” for $15 had taken the balance down to a negative $11.05 when I finally logged on after weeks of not logging into my account. Looking for a way to contact the bank’s customer support online, I found none. Later, clicking on the “chat” link provided no help, so this web expert gave up.
Cut to April 18, 2014, when a notice in the mail from Huntington Bank – cleverly disguised as a potential check – notified me that the balanced had sunk to a negative $36.05, and the following day, when a debt collector’s call alerted me of the same information.
Explaining that the “$15 monthly checking maintenance fee” only discovered online within the bank’s disclosure form, which states “this fee is waived for each monthly statement period that your Total Relationship Balance is at least $15,000,” was something not seen in the promotional print, I grew angrier when the Huntington Bank debt collector stated that the $25 “extended overdraft fee” would be charge weekly until the negative balance was satisfied.
Bank account closed, bank fees refunded
After immediately requesting that this misleading checking account be closed, I learned that even though the Huntington Bank account can be opened online, customer service cannot close accounts with negative balances online – a feat that required a visit to a brick and mortar branch to accomplish.
Blessedly, a delightful bank manager agreed to reverse the $15 monthly checking fee and $25 extended overdraft fee and closed my account, delivering my $3.95 balance in cash while making kind chitchat throughout the whole process.
The biggest takeaway from indulging in these types of “free” $200 promotional offers for new checking accounts is to not only read all the fine print on the fliers – but to search online for additional requirements to fully ensure you understand all the charges.
It’s a good practice to undertake whether you’re opening a new checking account or receiving a cash advance online at http://www.cashadvanceonline.net/, or performing any other financial transaction.