Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Citibank Sucks

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?)


Anonymous said...

This makes zero sense. I do ACH transfers from Citi all the time. Are you saying that if I go to E-Trade and request 10,00 from Citi they will deny the transaction?

Kid Dynamite said...

no - Anon - they better not. You just can't do it from the Citi side. you have to do it from the other institution side.

This does matter, because, with Amex for example, if Amex initiates the transaction (transfer into Amex), there is a 6 day hold period on the funds. If Citi initiates the transaction, the money is available for use overnight.

So yes - i can get the money out of Citi - but I have to do it from the Amex side. I'll clarify that in the post.

Anonymous said...

All of the major banks suck.

Why not vote with your dollars and find a local bank or credit union? They typically offer decent rates, have great customer service, and provide adequate to excellent on-line features.

They are also usually part of a regional network (in your area, SUM or NYCE) that agree not to charge each other ATM fees. My own credit union even reimuburses me for "foreign ATM fees", so I can use any ATM I want.

I myself will never again do business with any company that received a bail-out. That includes all of the major financial institutions as well as GM, Chrysler, and AIG. (Fannie and Freddie might be impossible to avoid, at least indirectly, but I would if I could.)

maynardGkeynes said...

Are you aware that the AMEX FSB CD early withdrawal penalty basically is "we take all of your interest and maybe even some of your principal if you are pulling out because rates have gone up?" It may still be a good deal, but basically they have shifted all the interest rate risk to you. What bothers me is that they hide it in a 20 page depositor agreement. A fundamental change in the usual CD practice like this should be front and center, IMO. Once again the banks get away with anything as FDIC looks on.

Kid Dynamite said...

maynard - I don't have a CD with Amex - it's a high yield savings account. they can change the rate on me - if they do, I'll take the money out.

Nemo - I should look into that. kudos for starving the beast

Anonymous said...

Big banks also suck for people who aren't whales like you Kid. I should have such problems like moving my MUCH MONEY from A to B. Timing of debits and credits is very sketch to maximize fees.

Here's Kid before big transfer. Shapow!

Anonymous said...

Kid Dynamite said...

SHAPOW! I been had hundreds - whatever that means. yes anon - I have stacks of hundys all over my pool table. but I don't have a chandelier like that, I don't have tattoos, and I'm white.

i was actually worried that I might give the wrong impression with this post - I am not saying that I need to transfer $100k every day - but I don't like the fact that they won't let me.

Unknown said...

Agree with Nemo, credit union is probably the best bet. I swap my savings/checking between a local credit union and ING depending on who has better rates.

Both connect to the etrade account but I don't move as much money as you kid :) so I don't know about the day limits.

Anonymous said...

I been had hundreds

Is it "been had" or "Ben head"?

Kid Dynamite said...

Nemo, you are so square... it's been had!

Unknown said...

My true Citi horror story - I have a Citi Mastercard and travel a lot on business. Twice now my card has been denied because my use pattern set off alarm bells with their fraud prevention unit. OK, travel to Japan perhaps I can understand, but travel to a state in the union, Hawaii? The capper - the second time the card was denied I called their customer service and told them to knock it off, and the customer srvice person said she had to verify by calling me back on my cell phone - from the Phillipines!!! Bye bye Citibank Mastercard.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree, Citibank sucks. Was on holiday in Barbados, went to pay the hotel bill and they DK'ed me. I spoke to them on the phone, verified all my details and they still would not accept the charges. It was not a credit limit issue, they simply said "according to our T&C's we have the right to deny you using your card". So I paid with my EGG card w/o a problem. Ironically EGG is owned by Citibank. Citi sucks and will no doubt be trying it's third run at blowing up in the future. However, I still have an a/c there because they will get bailed out forever.

Daniel said...

I loath Citi. We have a credit card through them, only piece of business we have, with a high 5 figure limit. If I could get underwritten anywhere else, the breeze would rush in from the door swinging open so fast... They would freeze the card for "fraudulent" activity and not contact us. This happened to my wife three times. She would be out running errands and all of a sudden the card was blocked. I raised banjugi tilt the last time and they have been better since. Still.