How Much Does Empower Banking Cost?
I feel like a broken record when the conversation turns to bank fees. The average bank customer in the US pays $360 in bank fees a year. We already get nothing for putting money in the bank, we even get charged for the privilege of doing so. In our modern economy, not having a bank account and a debit card is a utter inconvenience. Some stores even go as far as not accepting cash!
That’s why we make Empower banking free so that anyone can get access to fair and rewarding banking. In this post, I will go through each fees in our fee chart and provide more colors on what they are and our policy.
This is the fee you get charged at a traditional bank just to simply have an account and put money in. It is typically between $12-15 a month, adding up to $144-$180 a year. The top US banks have onerous requirements you need to meet if you don’t want to pay this fee, such as having a minimum balance of $500 each day, or a direct deposit of at least $250 (example). To illustrate how hard it is to meet these requirements, I was making a good income in my full-time job in my 20s, but still got hit with this fee a few times a year because I mistimed some of my bills. So now, Empower makes it free, no string attached.
Traditional bank: $12-15/month, free if meet requirements
Empower: Free, no requirements
An overdraft fee is charged when you preauthorize a transaction (by swiping your card, entering a PIN or signing for it) but you don’t have enough money to cover it. The bank charges you this fee for the service of fronting you this money. The “sister” of overdraft fee is insufficient fund fee, or NSF, which is charged by your bank when they deny a transaction that you don’t have enough money for. So when you’re “poor”, you get charged a fee whether the bank front you the money or not.
Empower comes with an artificial intelligence app that subtracts pending transactions from your balance in real time. Pending transactions are amounts that you preauthorize but not yet goes through. Simply by checking the app, you know how much money you have and how much more you can spend. It also alerts you of upcoming bills and keeps you on track with your budget, so you never run out of money. We believe you will never run into these situations when you use the app properly, so we don’t provide overdraft and you will never get charged an overdraft fee or insufficient fund fee. Your transaction will simply be denied if you ever run out of money.
Traditional bank: $35
ACH Transfer fee
ACH transfer is the mechanism through which you can send money from an account at one bank to another account at another bank. Most banks offer free ACH transfer between the account you have with them and an “external bank account” that you add to their platform. To add an external bank account, you provide enough for the bank to be comfortable that you own the other accounts. Otherwise, banks typically charge $3 for an ACH transfer.
Unaware of ACH transfer and external accounts, some people use “wire transfers” only to later realize that it costs anywhere between $15 -$30. Ouch!
At Empower, we recognize that our millennial customers are partial to Venmo and Square cash, so we make it easy to add Empower as your bank on those platform. You only need the routing and account number, or your debit card number. If you link your other bank accounts to the Empower app, those get automatically added as “external accounts” so you can transfer money between your Empower checking and your other accounts freely and at zero cost to you.
Traditional banks: $3-$30
(to be continued)