This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 9, 2012 8:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was Belt and suspenders. The next post in this blog is Nothing but happy talk from Portland media. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Honeymoon's over at Umpqua Bank

It's been two years since we pulled our banking business out of Chase Bank. We were gratified to get those thieving magpies out of our life. And we found a nice local bank, Umpqua Bank from Roseburg, who made us feel quite at home. Not only was our checking free, with no minimum balance, but we got 2% interest on the checking balance, free ATM use at other banks, and for a while they would even throw $10 a month into a savings account if we'd agree to put $50 a month in there ourselves and keep a $200 savings balance. We had to get a paperless monthly statement and use our debit card 10 times a month, but neither of those was a big deal. "Hip" checking, they called it.

We knew it wouldn't last forever -- especially the $10 deposit part, which had an explicit, set expiration date -- but now all the other goodies are gone too. Yesterday Umpqua broke the news to us that unless we're willing to commit to an average monthly balance of $500, we'll be stripped down to a no-fee, non-interest-bearing checking account with no ATM freebies at other banks.

That's kind of a drag, but the worst part of the notice was the way they handled the transition. Unless we told them otherwise, they were going to throw us into an account with a $15 monthly fee unless we kept a $2,500 balance. That would have been a nasty surprise, and it seems heavy-handed on their part to make that the default rule if the customer didn't call in and stop it.

We did call, of course, and we got a nice person on the phone who said she moved us into the no-fee, no-minimum account. But suddenly our friendly neighborhood bank feels much like the big, bad banks we were trying to avoid. And so now we'll have to regard them with some suspicion. We have a feeling that another bad shoe will drop before too long.

Comments (36)

So what local bank or credit union would you recommend to this newcomer? I have landed myself a job and would like to remove myself from BoA in the near future.

Of course, Umpqua will be taking a bit of a haircut here:


As an OnPoint Credit Union member for many years, I don't recommend going over there. Since Cliff Dias fleeced the membership as CEO, they are nothing special.

Have done a lot of research on the industry.

It costs a commercial bank over $150 a year for each account, so if they do not get fee income they're losing money. Used to be they made a lot on interest earned from deposits, but with short term rates near 0%, there's no income from that.

Credit unions spend less per account, but offer less, have weaker security, smaller networks, don't always report accounts to credit scoring agencies, and have less regulatory oversight. They also are nonprofits, so there are no shareholders to pay dividends to. They offer good deals, but behind the scenes your getting less.

That's the tradeoff.

I agree Jack. I have banked with Onpoint (Portland Teachers) since 1978 ( I was 14).

As Onpoint they suck. I loved the commercial I heard that attacked the big banks for attaching all kinds of fees to their accounts....right as Onpoint attached an annual fee to my credit line that has been open (and fee-less) since 1986.

Sadly, the choices to move to are wearing thin.

You're giving magpies a bad name...

I've been with Advantis Credit Union for about 4 years. I really like them & haven't had any bad experiences there. They dont' have a lot of branches, but you can use other credit unions' ATMs at no charge.

I would second the recommendation of Advantis. They've got a checking account that pays 2% interest on the first 30k in the account (but requires 12 debit card transactions per month). I'm a little confused by the poster who indicated lax security at CUs - if I fail to notify the CU when I go out of state, I get a cell phone call to confirm that I'm the one using the card.

PMG, Advantis recently reduced the maximum balance for the 2% interest rate to 25k. Everything over 25k just only gets 0.1.

I just switched to Advantis last month, thus I can't comment much on their service, but I can say that when I was looking for a new place to keep my money they offered the terms that I found to be the most agreeable out of the places I checked out.

OnPoint may have some issues, but they are still much better than any of the major US banks. We are in the middle of transferring from Chase to OnPoint and I haven't had any problems.

Actually, PACE was far better as a CU - until they merged with another CU to form what became known as Advantis. I agree, however, that the new entity still beats OnPoint.


I received the same Umpqua mailer. What struck me was that there were five different types of checking accounts. Does one bank really need five types of retail checking accounts? Actually six, the type of account they converted me to isn't even on the mailer!

I’ve been with PACE/Advantis for over 25 years. They are simply the best! https://www.advantiscu.org/page.php?page=19


Banks earn interest by loaning money, and the rates they loan at are not near zero.

Credit Unions do not have “weaker security” than a bank in any way.

The $150.00 “cost per account” means nothing, certainly not that a bank loses money on each “account” opened for which it does not collect $150.00 in fees, which is what is implied.

You sound like a shill for banks.

Which is a shame, because bank services should be paid for – it’s a service that we buy and deserves to make money. But the obfuscation that is endemic to the industry (sadly both commercial and investment – the two are now so intertwined that it’s sick making), makes it easy for the public to see all bankers as no better than crooks.

I got a letter from Rivermark CU 10 days before Christmas telling me they were cancelling my credit card. They kept the interest rate the same and the minimum payment didn't go up, but it was bad form to cancel during the holiday buying season, methinks.

Otherwise I would have recommended them.

I am a long time customer of Albina Community Bank and have been very happy with their high quality / low cost service. They have a good presence in NE Portland.

Several years ago, I moved my account from Chase to Bank of Oswego, and have moved several other accounts there since. Never a line, either at the teller or the drive-thru.

They work hard to get to know you so they can treat you like an honest adult, rather than as someone who is trying to scam the bank. I couldn't be happier and won't have to travel by streetcar!

Jack, thanks for your feedback. We hope the honeymoon isn’t truly over and that this message is the first step to rekindle the good feelings you have about banking with us.

You’re right that our old account features couldn’t remain the same in the current environment. We took great care in creating our new offerings to include the services our customers want most. We also took equal care to offer each customer the account that would fit them best, but clearly missed the boat for you and we’re sorry to hear that the way we made the change let you down. We’re as committed as always to serving you and all our customers, and I hope it shows that there’s no need for worry.

Rick Calero
Executive Vice President, Community Banking
Umpqua Bank

First Tech and Advantis are the best. Never any fees, employees who are competent, well paid, and happy to assist you.

The BEST rates for loans also, dare to compare!

www.firsttechfed.com - their online banking is amazing and free bill pay too, it's pretty slick!

Thanks, folks! I'll be checking out Advantis and First Tech post haste!

Advantis is great! Easy online features. Great loan products. Not enough locations, but I keep a no fee checking close and transfer between banks.

Many credit unions are part of the Co-op network, so free ATMs can be found nationwide.


Maybe you can get a taxable toaster somewhere.

Ever hear of Frank-Dodd? Could there just be a connection between these latest rounds of bank fees and all these new reulations?

Careful Dave. If you dig too deep you'll find some real crap.

Ah, for the bad old days.

When U.S. bank PAID 5 % on deposits, CHARGED 7% on loans, had no hidden "gotsya" fees, and they MADE MONEY !

You knew the branch manager and he knew YOU and your family, he had the authority to fix any problem, you saw each other in church and if you were late paying a loan, it was a family shame.

If the branch treated you badly, you could call up John Elorriaga and he would return your call since he was seen everywhere all of the time.

But that was back when bank robbers didn't work on the top floor of the bank.

We have been using Columbia State Bank for many years after having several small banks bought, traded, etc. leaving our accounts with WaMu then Chase.

I have fee-free checking for our joint personal accounts as well as my business. The service at the local branch I deal with most has been excellent.

Columbia has branches in Washington and Oregon.


FWIW, I have no relationship with Columbia beyond being a satisfied customer.

Don't confuse security with security theatre.

If you travel out of state they call your home to verify that you are out of state. Be sure to tell the maid it is OK to verify you are out of town to anyone who calls.

Addison..., er FirstTechCU challenges you if you attempt to access your account online from a "new" IP address. Forget that most folks don't have fixed IP (your cable box) addresses and that your IP address changes every time you power-down.

Security? Only in getting kickbacks from the vendors of junque services and products. You know, like parking meters!

Bank By Train!

I use Advantis. They are very conscientious.

Still, it's probably good to check Bankrate.com or Weiss or some other rating agency from time to time.

Anything is subject to mission-creep, or worse, mission-flip.

I think some of you should pool resources and start your own bank and offer free checking to your customers, free ATM's, no minimums... make it all free. It looks like some of you think that would be a great business model.

I recommended Umpqua to folks who had to have a bank and didn't want a credit union (Rivermark is very nice), but no more --- Umpqua has recently joined the thug banks in imposing a "check the constitution at the door to the bank" arbitration clause for all their accounts, including a ban on class action suits. Screw that. I've never sued anyone and hope I never do, but I'm damned if I'll have a bank put a "heads we wind, tails you lose" clause in our deal. Companies want to impose arbitration because that stacks the deck in their favor every time. The arbitrators well know and understand who chooses the arbitrators next time, and the time after, and the time after ... And it aint you and me.

I've moved to a local credit union after the whole $5 debit card fee but I still have $2 in my BofA checking account. They recommended I keep it open when I went in.

So I did hoping that some day they'll change the rules so that it carries a fee. That fee will overdraft the account then I can go in and get all pissy about them trying to charge me $30+ for overdrafting on an account that hadn't been used in 6 months and counting.

Yeah. That will be a fun day.

I've been with PACE / Advantis. But a few years ago, I switched over to Unitus Credit Union and haven't looked back.

EB, you are right that a bank makes money loaning out your deposits. But if your deposits are minimal and you engage in a lot of transactions, then there is no way the bank is making a profit from your account.

That's not being a shill for banks, that's basic economics. The era of free checking was at first supported by banks having a near monopoly as a place to put money and engage in transactions (paper checks); now the competition for both services is legion. The second era of free checking was floated on top of unrealistic mortgage loan profits (think Washington Mutual).

There are free checking options, but the era of free paper checks, free paper statements, free unlimited debit card transactions, and interest on your account when you maintain a balance under $2500 is long gone. I'm surprised Umpqua held out so long.

My own banking is done at Charles Schwab Bank, which has free checking, refunds all ATM fees, charges no foreign transaction fees, and has free overdraft protection (BUT you have to have sufficient funds in a savings, money market, or investment sweep account).

Banner Bank is another internet bank that has a local branch downtown.

For local banking, I still think Umpqua is the cream of the crop, and their offerings are still the best. Used to be with OnPoint but they really degraded once they were no longer PTCU.

Hey thanks above for the Advantis links, they look very good. The Fusion checking looks nice except for the annoying requirement that you log in to online checking once a cycle (why do they care if you already get electronic statements, have direct deposit, and have 12 debit card transactions monthly).

Still, the only "penalty" is that they don't refund the ATM fees if you don't meet the requirements.

The average daily deposit limit for their standard free, interest checking is just $1000.

Clicky Web Analytics