Yesterday, I visited a nearby branch of Chase, where my old WAMU checking account now lives. I deposited my paycheck in person at the teller and then checked my balance. The funds, my funds, were not reflected in my account balance. When I asked the kind bank rep who says hello to everyone who walks in what's going on, her brightly lit eyes faded a bit and the word "Oh" barely escaped from her quickly pursing lips. "The funds were being held by Chase for 24 hours."
Large banks like Chase spend money creating the veneer of local and friendly places to bank. A smiling person greets you when you walk in. But their policies are anything but. It used to be that a hold was placed on funds for a specific reason. Chase places holds on all non-cash deposits so that they, not you, can have 24 hours to use your money any way they wish. Perhaps the money from my paycheck was used yesterday to lobby Congress to limit financial reforms, or to pay a large bonus to an executive. When you multiply millions of paychecks, you can see that with this one policy, Chase is able to leverage their customer's money in a very powerful way.
It was in this visit to a gleaming new Chase branch that I realized by my choice of financial institution, I was contributing to the pushback against financial regulation reform. By simply switching my bank to a small, local institution, I could prevent my money from being used against me.
It turns out I'm not the only person coming to this conclusion. Hopefully, you'll decide to move your money like I did. Happy New Year!