I value my rights as a consumer. Despite Ally Bank, the former GMAC, offering juicy (relative to other banks) yields, for some reason I've refused to open an account with them. Somehow, I was thinking that I'd refuse to be part of the government bailout program and refuse to feed the beast. Of course, at the same time, I still had a chunk of my assets at Citibank, which is very much a part of the problem. I justified this to my inner Judge by telling myself that Citi sucked, and we all know that, but at least they weren't as bad as GMAC - which may not be true at all. I also wrote this week about how I opened an account at American Express Bank, while Amex was a receipt of federal funds as well. So anyway, my consumer idealogies were somewhat misplaced and unjustified, but hey - that's my prerogative. I was too lazy to close my Citi account - I like their bill pay functionality and as long as I can easily move my money around when I want to, it didn't worry me too much.
Well, I found out this week that Citi put in some new rules to impede me moving my money around. Several years ago, I had a link between an Etrade account and a Citi account. One could, if one so desired, transfer up to $100k daily between these accounts. When I opened up my new Amex Bank account, I linked it to my Citi and Etrade accounts. Amex allows transfers of up to $250k daily, while Etrade will let you send $100k. Citi? The outgoing limit is $2,000. Oh sure - they'll let you transfer money IN - but if you want to take it out, they say "oh, these are new anti-money-laundering regulations."
"That's nonsense," I explained to the woman on the phone, "Other banks let me transfer much more - and Citi will accept plenty of money as long as it's coming in not going out." Of course, like most Citi customer service reps, she was powerless to help me or answer my questions.
Nothing makes me want to take my money out faster than a bank who tries to impede my ability to take my money out. Eff you, Citi - I'm done with you. I'm gonna whittle my account there down to the bare minimum, and give my business to a bank that pays me interest and provides real customer service.
As a friend of mine put it, "I've had credit cards and accounts with them, and I've never hated a bank so much. I just shut it down." I didn't really care about the inept customer service, as long as I could do what I wanted online - but once Citi implements rules that make my money hard to easily transfer out of there electronically, I'm gone.
My needs in a bank are pretty simple: I want an account that doesn't charge me fees (you're holding MY money and making profits off it - you should be paying ME), pays me a competitive interest rate, has up to date electronic technology in terms of bill pay, account management, and transfer abilities, and a competent customer service agent to talk to should something get screwed up. If the bank doesn't have a physical location near me (which neither Citi, Amex, or Etrade do), that's ok as long as I can easily transfer money to an account at a bank that does have a branch near me.
Citibank sucks. They have inept customer service, pay well below market interest rates, and make it harder for you to take your money out. I'm taking my business elsewhere - finally.
EDIT: an Anonymous commenter leads me to a clarification - I can "pull" the money out by initiating the transfer from my Amex account instead of "pushing" funds from my Citi account - but that is treated differently. In such "pull" transactions, the funds have a 6 day hold on them before they can be used. In transactions initiated by Citi (or any party on the other side, ie, NON-Amex), the funds are available overnight. Of course, this "pull" from the Amex side is exactly what I'm doing to get my money out of Citibank.
disclosure: long a teeny bit of C stock, for some inane reason (greater fool theory? moral hazard trade?)