MONEY Advertising

Best ATM Ever Gives Away Free Trips to Disney, Flights to Caribbean

screenshot from TD advertisement

This viral "Automated Thanking Machine" video will warm your heart, despite the unlikelihood of any bank ever being this nice to you.

Visit the typical ATM and all you come away with is some of your own money, and perhaps a bitter taste in your mouth after coughing up a $3 fee.

Some very special ATMs set up by TD Canada, however, have been giving customers a whole lot more—like the opportunity to toss out the opening pitch in a Major League Baseball game, and a free trip to Disneyland for a single mom and her kids.

In this highly unusual case, the ATM acronym stands for “Automated Thanking Machine,” and TD Canada secretly recorded a bunch of customers on video while they’re receiving their very special gifts. It was edited and put into a YouTube ad that was posted last week and has generated more than 3 million page views.

It may seem like there are some privacy concerns. The bank bizarrely knows all sorts of intimate details about these customers’ private lives. For instance, it’s no coincidence that the guy who gets to throw out the opening pitch to Jose Bautista at a Toronto Blue Jays game just so happens to be a huge Blue Jays fan.

The robot-like voice emanating from the machine also gets into a deep conversation about how one elderly woman has a daughter in Trinidad who is stricken with cancer. Creepy, right? But when that voice announces that the bank is giving the woman a free flight to see her daughter, the heartwarming, tear-inducing scene that results apparently is enough to cast aside any qualms about invasion of privacy.

It turns out that the banks gathered information about these customers the old-fashioned way–with local staffers asking about their lives–rather than sneakily via reviewing Facebook accounts or scanning customer purchase histories. Most banks and companies use our personal information to try to sell us more stuff, but in this instance it was used to pick out the perfect, incredibly thoughtful gift. See for yourself.

MONEY Banking

Why People Mistrust Financial Advisers

Untrustworthy businessman crossing fingers behind back
RubberBall Productions—Getty Images/Vetta

A financial planner says people can be cynical about her work. Her own experience as a bank customer helps explain why.

Very often, we financial planners convey the impression that getting your financial life into shape is easy. And that we’re in control of our finances.

If we had a bit of humility, we’d admit that we share the same frustrations as our clients.

Like dealing with low interest rates on checking accounts in combination with high banking fees.

“You get interest on this account,” the customer service representative from my bank said. This was about a month ago. I had called the bank upon receiving my monthly statement.

“Yes,” I replied. “I got a penny last month. A penny. And now you want to charge me $25 a month to have a checking account?”

She had to laugh.

I was calling to ask why a $25 charge had shown up on my formerly free checking account.

She asked if anything had changed. It had. I had paid off all my big debts. I was in much better financial shape.

Well, that explained it.

Now that I had repaid my loans to the bank, apparently my relationship with it wasn’t sufficient to earn me free checking. I was no longer paying the bank large amounts of interest, so it would start charging me this monthly fee. That is the way it works.

If this makes sense to you, you must be a banker.

Okay, that was a low blow. But for me, it’s an example of why so many clients have a bad attitude toward financial services institutions and professionals.

It’s not just the malcontents, it’s everyone. The surveys confirm that the public does not hold financial services institutions in high regard.

Many of my clients been burned before. And they’re probably still getting burned by such ridiculous tactics as fee-ing the customer to death or the inability to get a new mortgage or a small business loan without a dossier three feet thick that proves you do actually pay your bills.

I told the woman on the phone, “I just opened two checking accounts at another bank for my twin daughters. The other bank is going to charge $12 a month for each account. And as soon as my girls go show their college IDs, the accounts will be free. So tell me why I should pay you $25.”

I spoke politely, without a trace of anger.

Eventually, the customer service representative found a way to give me some credit for direct deposit of my paycheck. And she switched me to an account that will ding me only $7 a month.

Of course, if the bank had wanted to provide the best deal for a longtime customer, they could have recognized this direct deposit before. But they hadn’t. They had just slapped a fee three times larger than on my new account, perhaps hoping I wouldn’t find out how I could save some money.

Cynicism? Anger? The emotions that I feel are the same ones that people have when they approach me as a professional. As a certified financial planner I have much larger ideas that I need to convey to our customers and the general public than “I won’t cheat you or slip in something that benefits me and not you.”

But it’s tough to get through all that dreck first and get on to the important ideas.

I told the customer service representative that I didn’t mind giving up the penny in exchange for a lower monthly fee.

When I told this anecdote to one of my partners, he just had to raise the ante. “Last month, I got three pennies,” he said.

Another happy financial services customer.

———-

Harriet J. Brackey, CFP, is the co-chief investment officer of KR Financial Services, a South Florida registered investment advisory firm that manages more than $330 million. She does financial planning for clients and manages their portfolios. Before going into the financial services industry, she was an award-winning journalist who covered Wall Street. Her background includes stints at Business Week, USA Today, The Miami Herald and Nightly Business Report.

TIME Economy

Wall Street Payouts Over Mortgage Crisis Top $100 Billion

Citibank To Cut 11,000 Jobs
A 'Citi' sign is displayed near Citibank headquarters in Manhattan on December 5, 2012 in New York City. Mario Tama—Getty Images

But U.S. assets lost $2.7 trillion in value from 2007 to 2010

Citigroup is reportedly closing in on a settlement deal that could cost the bank roughly $7 billion for its alleged involvement in the mortgage crisis.

The sum took Wall Street by surprise, the Wall Street Journal reports. Analysts predicted a settlement of $2 billion, perhaps $5 billion, but nowhere near the Department of Justice’s original request for $10 billion. That was approaching JPMorgan Chase’s record payout of $13 billion, and Citigroup argued it had sold far fewer mortgage-backed securities, so it should pay a commensurately smaller price.

Maybe so, but the Justice Department had momentum on its side. Banks have recently been falling like dominoes before its demands.

From 2010 to 2013, the nation’s six largest banks paid a total of $85.7 billion in settlement fees for their involvement in the mortgage crisis, according to SNL Financial. Add in two more whopping settlements in 2014, plus Citigroup’s impending deal, and the legal bill tops $100 billion. Citigroup’s tab would put it roughly in the middle of the past three years of legal shellackings.

Settlements
Source: SNL Financial, TIME

This partly reflects a more aggressive push by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to hold big banks accountable for the housing crisis, even as critics ask how it is that no bankers have successfully been prosecuted since the collapse. Holder himself once said that prosecution of a big bank might be “difficult,” given the complexity of their trades (a statement he later recanted).

But prosecution remains purely theoretical so long as Citigroup, like every other big bank before it, hops on the settlement bandwagon. After all, a lawsuit would have posed a public relations nightmare for the banks. No bank wants to be seen digging in its heels over sums that are positively dwarfed by the losses that mortgage-backed securities unleashed on the larger economy. The IMF estimates that U.S. assets lost $2.7 trillion in value from 2007 to 2010. That’s 28 times what big banks have subsequently paid in settlements.

Untitled
Sources: IMF, SNL Financial, TIME

No wonder, then, that Citigroup is expected to wrap up its deal with regulators as early as next week.

TIME Money

Study: Everyone Despises Overdraft Fees, Except Banks

ATM Overdraft Fees
Getty Images

Customers are confused and angry

Bank customers are angry and confused by overdraft fees, research confirmed recently, an indication that effort four years ago to implement transparent rules about when banks are allowed to charge customers has not worked.

Roughly 41% of consumers have taken action against their bank after being charged for overdrawing from their checking accounts using their debit cards in the past year, a new study by Pew Charitable Trusts found.

Regulations in place since 2010 require banks to ask customers to opt into overdraft protection—when banks cover a shortage on your balance with a temporary advance, in exchange for a fee. But the study found more than half of those charged an overdraft fee don’t remember ever agreeing to the protection.

If the rules are vague, the banks are reaping the benefits: banks earned an estimated $16.7 billion for such overdraft fees in 2011, according to the New York Times.

Young people were the most likely to have to pay. A 25-year-old had a 133% higher chance of being charged an overdraft fee than a 65-year-old, the survey of 1,800 found.

Some peeved customers have reportedly closed their accounts in retaliation. According to the survey, 13% of people who paid an overdraft penalty last year say they no longer have a checking account, 19% of people discontinued their overdraft coverage and 28% of people closed their checking accounts. The median overdraft fee was $35, but 25% of customers were charged $90 or more.

MONEY Odd Spending

Finally, a Subscription Service for Laundry Quarters

Putting quarters in laundry machine
iStock

You pay $15 per month and get … $10 worth of quarters. Apparently, it's not a joke.

File this under the category of Solutions to Problems You Didn’t Know You Had, or perhaps Ways for Extremely Lazy and Disorganized People to Drop an Extra $5 Per Month.

On Thursday, a startup called Washboard launched a quarter subscription delivery service, which is just what it sounds like. Customers sign up—OK, in theory, they sign up—for $10 or $20 worth of quarters to be delivered to them on a monthly basis. The service costs $14.99 for a $10 roll of quarters per month, or $26.99 for $20 worth of quarters monthly. The latter is the option that’s “great for high volume folks, couples, or roommates,” according to Washboard’s website.

Understandably, the reaction at large has been one of puzzlement, with people alternately assuming that the service is a joke or pointing out the obvious—that such a subscription doesn’t seem remotely necessary, and certainly doesn’t seem anywhere near worth the money. “Ever hear of a bank?” a typical Twitter comment says of Washboard.

Washboard’s founders, who say they already some customers (“less than 10″), are apparently cool with being a magnet for mockery in social media. “I’ll admit, it’s a little bit of a negative critique for the most part on Twitter, which is good,” cofounder Caleb Brown told Valley Wag. “I think it’s good. I think it’s a polarizing thing.”

He also insists it’s a completely valid, practical, worthwhile service, because many of the young people he encounters would pay a few bucks in order to skip a regular trip to the bank. “Banks close at 5, maybe they’re open Saturday, but they close at noon. I’m rarely out of bed by then,” he said.

The company follows in the footsteps of many other startup subscription services, such as viral hit of 2012, Dollar Shave Club, which sends subscribers razors for as little as $1 per month (plus shipping and handling). But Dollar Shave Club offered more than just convenience; there was a true value proposition. The service saves time and money. By most accounts, it’s been successful, and has even welcomed a sidekick subscription service, One Wipe Charlies, which are butt wipes for guys. (That’s no joke either.)

Washboard must also be discussed in light of Silicon Valley’s ongoing “bubbly race to wash your clothes better, faster, and cooler,” as New York magazine, put it, with startups like Washio offering drycleaning pickup and delivery at your door, sometimes with cookies as a scrumptious bonus.

Such services charge a premium, of course, but they save the customer a substantial amount of time. Anyone using Washboard still must do his or her own laundry, and whatever time is saved on gathering quarters comes at a 50% premium on a $10 roll of quarters. Nonetheless, the founders claim that the service legitimately eliminates one of laundry’s “pain points,” and that therefore it’s not silly. They also have ambitions to move on to detergent and fabric softener subscription services.

And who knows? The idea is probably pretty appealing to those who want to turn off their brains and never have to think about getting quarters for laundry ever again. But even after signing up for Washboard, you can’t turn your brain off entirely. After getting your monthly shipment delivered, you still have to remember to actually bring the roll of quarters to the laundromat.

TIME Travel

3 Sneaky Ways Your Vacation Is Costing You Extra

Nothing can ruin your vacation more than getting charged excessive fees that drain your bank account — or worse, losing your credit card and falling victim to identity theft. Why risk ruining your vacation? With careful planning, you can protect yourself from both theft and unnecessary expenses. Here are three tips to help keep your bank account financially sound and your finances running smoothly on your summer vacation.

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

  • Get A Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees & An EMV Chip

    Illustration by Emily Turner

    Most credit cards charge you 3% on every dollar you spend overseas. That means every $1,000 spent on your trip will cost you $30 in fees. But, you can eliminate this unnecessary expense by carrying a travel credit card, which has zero foreign transaction fees. An great example is the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard, which also comes with travel accident insurance and fraud liability.

    In addition, some credit cards offer some pretty sweet travel rewards to earn you money back for your travel spending. For example, the Barclaycard offers 2.2% rewards on every dollar spent, when your rewards are redeemed for travel. The Bank of America Travel Rewards card offers 1.5 points on every dollar spent. It has no foreign transaction fees and a pretty decent sign-up bonus.

    You may also want to consider a credit card that has EMV chip technology, a secure microchip for transmitting data. This technology helps reduce counterfeiting and fraud. If your card is lost or stolen, the embedded microchip makes the card harder to counterfeit. These cards are easily accepted overseas.

    (MORE: We Solve 3 Tricky Packing Challenges)

  • Withdraw Cash From An ATM & Exchange Money Without Paying Huge Fees

    Illustration by Emily Turner

    Not every hotel or restaurant will accept your credit card, so it’s important to have cash on hand at all times. Unfortunately, withdrawing money at an airport or from a foreign ATM can come with number of fees, including a fee for currency conversion. First, you should try very hard not to exchange money at airports, which tend to carry the worst exchange rates. Nor should you exchange money at a bank at home, as you will most likely receive a better rate in the country you are traveling to. Using your debit card to withdraw money from ATMs overseas is actually not a bad option, since it tends to come with lower rates. A few banks make it easier on your wallet when it comes to withdrawing your money. Capital One is one bank that waives foreign transaction fees on ATM withdrawals. The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account is another option. It offers unlimited rebates on any ATM fees you get charged, as well as no monthly service fees and .1% annual percentage yield (APY) on any balance.

    (MORE: 14 Sunny Places You’ll Want to Visit Now)

  • Set Up Your Bills For Automatic Payments & Alert Your Bank

    Illustration by Emily Turner

    You’ll need to make sure things continue to run smoothly while you’re away. Missing a credit card or mortgage payment can have a very negative effect on your credit score, so why take the risk?

    First, make sure all of your bills and bank accounts are up to date before you leave. Consider scheduling payments ahead of time for any upcoming bills. Most banks should let you pay a bill automatically at a future date.

    Next, you may want to consider alerting your bank that you will be on vacation. If a bank or credit card company sees that you’ve made a bunch of charges in an unfamiliar location, the bank may suspect fraud. Bank of America is one bank that has an option on its website to set up a travel notice.

    (MORE: 5 Editors, 5 Travel Outfits Under $100)

MONEY Pick from a Pro

Dimon in the Rough: Time to Buy J.P. Morgan Chase?

Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase
James "Jamie" Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Joshua Prezant—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The bank's stock and CEO Jamie Dimon have had a rough year. But Thornburg's Brian McMahon thinks that could soon change.

The Pro: Brian McMahon, chief investment officer at Thornburg Investment Management and co-manager of the Thornburg Investment Income Builder fund.

The Fund: Thornburg Investment Income Builder owns shares of large, value-oriented companies around the world. Over the past five and 10 years, the fund has beaten 95% and 86% of its peers, respectively.

The Pick: J.P. Morgan Chase

The Case: Long a banking industry darling, J.P. Morgan Chase has had a rough couple of years. After winning plaudits for deftly navigating the global financial crisis, America’s biggest bank by assets has been dogged by one scandal after another — from mammoth trading losses of the ‘London Whale’ to mortgage-related problems at Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, two companies it acquired during the crisis.

In all, the House of Morgan has agreed to pay more than $25 billion in fines. To put that in perspective, the bank’s total reported net income last year was just under $18 billion. Even chief executive Jamie Dimon has lost public esteem amid growing skepticism about his brash leadership style and outsize pay.

No wonder J.P. Morgan shares have lagged the market — and industry peers — for the past five years despite earning more than $87 billion in profit.

JPM Chart

JPM data by YCharts

McMahon thinks it’s time for investors to give the bank a fresh look. “You’ve got a household name in the U.S … and around the world,” he says.

Bad behavior, but good value
Chalk it up to bad timing. J.P. Morgan’s legal troubles arrived just as the rest of the broad market began to soar. But investors can turn that into an advantage, says McMahon. With the market up 53% over the past three years, McMahon estimates large company stocks are trading at price/earnings ratios of about 15, based on estimated 2014 profits. J.P. Morgan Chase, which has gained 38% sports a P/E ratio of only about nine. McMahon thinks the stock looks cheap, especially since J.P. Morgan has traded at an average P/E of 11 over the past decade.

Dividend Potential
In March, J.P. Morgan hiked its quarterly dividend to 40 cents from 38 cents. It might have gone further, McMahon says, but the Federal Reserve, still worried about the health of the banking system, has required banks to hold onto cash to strengthen their balance sheets. That can’t go on forever. With interest rates likely to rise in the long run — boosting what J.P. Morgan can earn on its $1.3 trillion of checking, savings and other deposits — he expects the company should be able to roughly double what it pays out to shareholders in the future.

Is There Another Shoe to Drop?
The big question: Is the worst of J.P. Morgan’s regulatory problems truly over? McMahon thinks so. But there is no guarantee.

“The government keeps hounding them and extracting fines for one thing or another,” he says. He’s quick to add: “There’s the shadow of them just being dogged.”

Just last month the former head of J.P. Morgan’s China investment banking team was arrested amid yet another scandal, this one focused on whether the giant bank inappropriately hired children of top Chinese officials in order to win business. J.P. Morgan didn’t respond to a call for comment by press time.

MONEY The Economy

Europe’s Central Bank Is Paying Negative Interest Rates. What Does That Mean?

Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB)
Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB). On June 5, the ECB introduced negative interest rates on deposits held by banks. Kai Pfaffenbach—Reuters

The European Central Bank tests out the radical idea of interest rates that are less than zero. Will this keep the Eurozone from slipping back into deflation?

At least we’re not Europe.

While Americans are starting to shift their attention to the next economic war — against inflation, as MONEY’s Pat Regnier notes – European policymakers are still frantically trying to fight the last one against deflation.

Toward that end, the European Central Bank on Thursday took the extraordinary step of going negative — that is, it cut the interest rate that it offers banks for holding excess reserves from 0% to -0.10%. It was part of a broader stimulus plan that also included a cut in another key European benchmark rate from 0.25% to 0.15%.

The extreme measures indicate just how worried European policymakers are about the threat of deflation.

But how do negative interest rates actually work?

Well, banks in the region will now be punished for keeping excess reserves at the ECB rather than deploying that money in the economy.

In the U.S., for instance, our central bank — the Federal Reserve — pays banks 0.25% on excess reserves that they keep on deposit. (In turn, banks pay you interest for parking your money in their CDs and money market accounts). By contrast, European banks who want to deposit their excess reserves will now be dinged 0.10%.

The move is designed to encourage banks to deploy their excess cash by investing it and loaning it out to spur economic growth, rather than just sitting on it.

Maybe encourage isn’t the right word. As David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors, described it last year: Negative rates “employ only a stick and no carrot. Their use tends to progress from disincentive through penalty to punishment.”

What is the European Central Bank’s real goal?

ECB president Mario Draghi took this radical step in hopes of accomplishing a few things in the short term:

1) Weaken the euro. By lowering its rates just as the U.S. Fed Reserve is debating when to start raising rates, the ECB is trying to send a loud signal to the global currency markets. The message: Don’t park your cash in our currency. That message was received loud and clear, as the euro has weakened in recent weeks in anticipation of Draghi’s moves.

Euro to US Dollar Exchange Rate Chart

Euro to US Dollar Exchange Rate data by YCharts

You can debate whether it’s good in the long run for a country (or in this case, region) to promote a weak currency. However, in the short run, a falling euro would help European exporters compete on price with their U.S. and Asian counterparts.

2) Promote borrowing and investment by European companies. By prodding banks to deploy their capital while simultaneously lowering other interest rates, Draghi wants to juice economic activity by making it cheap and attractive for European companies to borrow funds. At least more attractive than their American competitors are finding. This is important as the U.S. recovery is on much firmer footing than Europe’s.

Eurozone Industrial Production Chart

Eurozone Industrial Production data by YCharts

3) Introduce more inflation to the region. Right now, the year-over-year inflation rate in the Eurozone has slipped below 1%, which is well below the near-2% goal that the ECB is targeting. Isn’t low inflation good? Yes, but a growing economy needs some inflation, and deflation is distinctly bad. If Europe were to slip into deflation, it would be that much harder for the region’s companies and consumers to pay down their debt.

Eurozone Inflation Rate Chart

Eurozone Inflation Rate data by YCharts

What could go wrong?

A lot of things. Obviously, there could be unintended consequences of such a move. For instance if banks don’t feel it is safe to put this capital to work, a -0.10% rate may not be punitive enough to persuade them to free up capital in a meaningful way. At the same time, the punishment may be steep enough for banks to start raising fees and rates on their customers, which would actually curtail economic activity.

Also, what happens if banks go beyond what the ECB wants and start making investments that are too risky, threatening the economy in another way?

Critics of negative interest rate policies point out that the problem with Europe’s economy isn’t necessarily the lack of supply of investment capital. There’s simply a demand problem in an economy where GDP is essentially flat.

How radical an idea is this?

This isn’t the first time that a central bank has deployed negative rates, but it’s the first time that a central bank this big and important has done so in such a calculated way.

Two years ago, for instance, Denmark tried negative rates on CDs to keep foreign investors from driving up the value of its currency. Switzerland tried something similar in the 1970s.

In fact, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, academics publicly debated whether the Fed should deploy a similar strategy to promote growth here at home.

During the depths of the crisis in 2009, Greg Mankiw, a key economic adviser to President George W. Bush, argued in this New York Times piece that then Fed chairman Ben Bernanke should try out negative rates to get the U.S. economy out of recession then.

A year later, Alan Blinder, former vice chairman of the Fed and a key economic adviser to President Bill Clinton, backed negative rates specifically on Fed-held excess reserves in the Wall Street Journal.

Ultimately, the Fed turned to another out-of-the-box idea — direct bond purchases in the open market, as part of so-called quantitative easing — to promote growth.

Still, negative rates proved to be one of the few ideas that economists on both side of the political aisle embraced in the crisis.

How radical is that?

MONEY fees

No More ATM Fees? Sign Us Up!

B.A.E. Inc.—Alamy

FreeATM, which allows customers to watch a quick ad in lieu of paying the usual annoying $2 or $3 ATM fee, has big plans to expand, starting this summer.

Consumers run into plenty of tacked-on charges in today’s world—hello airline baggage fees!—but the ATM fee, small as it is, is up near the top in terms of generating aggravation. There’s just something patently absurd and beyond annoying about paying money to get your money.

According to a survey conducted on the behalf of TD Bank last summer, nonbank ATM fees were given the nod as the most frustrating bank fees, named by 38% of those polled. (Overdraft fees, which cost far more than the $2 or $3 charged by ATMs, came in second, with 27%.) In a previous survey, 77% of consumers said it is not OK for banks to charge ATM fees, and the majority of consumers said that a fair fee for using an ATM is … $0.

That’s just the amount consumers will incur when they an ATM service that plans on expanding rapidly throughout the country soon. First introduced in 2011 with a single ATM in New York City, the company—appropriately called FreeATM—announced that after the latest round of raising money from investors, it has plans for surcharge-free ATMs to open in 20 New York neighborhoods on the same (yet to be determined) day in August 2014.

In lieu of a fee for using an out-of-network ATM, customers will be shown a 15- to 20-second targeted ad on a screen, and then be able to use the machine fee-free. It doesn’t matter if your card is prepaid or a regular bank debit card; FreeATM won’t add a fee. (While the machine won’t charge you a fee, the bank or other service that issued the card might tack on its own fee, so watch out.) The plan is for around 250 ATMs in the New York metro area to start using the platform within a year.

Clinton Townsend, founder and owner of FreeATM, originally had the idea that his company would own and operate ATMs. That vision has evolved, however, and now FreeATM is partnering with major cash-machine operators Everything ATM, ATM Money Machine Inc., and NationalLink. The latter operates roughly 10,000 ATMs around the country.

“We have demand from operators from Boston to Hawaii, but we’re trying to control the roll-out,” Townsend said via e-mail. “We’re targeting the week of August 18th to launch. This may move around by a few days or so, as we are coordinating several venues to be unveiled at the same time.”

(MORE: How Do I Pick a Bank?)

If and when such ATMs arrive in your neck of the woods, you can say goodbye to the out-of-network ATM fee, which averages $2.60 nationally, according to Bankrate.com study. It’ll be great to get rid of one of life’s most annoying fees. Now we just have to wait and see how annoying the targeted ads are that are replacing the fees.

Bear in mind that there are other ways to avoid ATM fees, the most obvious of which is only using machines that are in your network. Also, a couple of convenience stores actively promote the fact that they have fee-free ATMs—a wise move considering that it gives consumers an extra reason to swing by and maybe buy some chips, jerky, and soda and gas up the car while they’re at it. Last fall, the Sheetz chain announced a partnership with PNC Bank to host 480 surcharge-free ATMs in its stores in Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Wawa, meanwhile, has hosted surcharge-free ATMs for years, and celebrated its one billionth free ATM withdrawal back in 2010.

Again, while these machines don’t tack on fees, your bank might for using an out-of-network ATM. Check your bank policy before finding a $2 or $3 fee on your monthly statement—because while all fees are annoying, they’re especially annoying and unpleasant when they come as a surprise.

TIME Companies

U.S. Charges Credit Suisse Over Tax-Fraud Scheme

SWITZERLAND-US-BANKING-BUSINESS-CREDITSUISSE
Fabrice Coffrini—AFP/Getty Images

Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges Monday for helping clients avoid tax payment by sending money overseas. The global banking giant will pay a total of $2.6 billion in penalties

The Swiss bank Credit Suisse pleaded guilty Monday to helping U.S. citizens commit tax evasion over the course of several decades, the Department of Justice announced. Credit Suisse will pay the Department of Justice, the Federal Reserve and the New York State Department of Financial Services a total of $2.6 billion in penalties, the largest payment ever in a U.S. criminal tax case. The banking giant is the first global financial institution to face a criminal conviction from U.S. authorities in more than a decade, Bloomberg reports.

Credit Suisse bankers aided thousands of wealthy Americans in concealing their money from U.S. authorities, the Department of Justice said. The bank helped American clients set up shell accounts to shuttle their money overseas and then solicited false IRS documents to make the accounts seem legitimate. According to a U.S. Senate subcommittee report released in February, Credit Suisse recruited new clients at bank-sponsored events, like golf tournaments in Florida and a gala in New York. In one instance, a Credit Suisse employee handed a client secret bank statements hidden in a copy of Sports Illustrated during a breakfast meeting. Credit Suisse had 22,000 U.S. customers with about $13.5 billion in their Swiss accounts in 2006, the “vast majority” of which was undeclared to U.S. authorities, according to the report.

“This case shows that no financial institution, no matter its size or global reach, is above the law,” Attorney General Eric Holder said announcing the conviction. “Credit Suisse conspired to help U.S. citizens hide assets in offshore accounts in order to evade paying taxes. When a bank engages in misconduct this brazen, it should expect that the Justice Department will pursue criminal prosecution to the fullest extent possible, as has happened here.”

As part of its deal, Credit Suisse must disclose its cross-border activities and cooperate in requests for account information from the U.S. government. The bank must also provide info about other banks that helped transfer funds into secret accounts and close the accounts of Americans who improperly report their assets to the U.S. government.

The move comes as part of an overall crackdown by the Department of Justice on offshore bank accounts. As part of the same investigation, the Department of Justice has indicted eight Credit Suisse executives since 2011. Two of them have pleaded guilty to criminal acts.

Credit Suisse earned $2.6 billion in profits in 2013 and generated $28.3 billion in revenue.

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