Walmart is fond of touting its falling prices, but the fees charged by the banks operating inside its stores are stratospheric. The banks in general charge higher-than-average overdraft fees. Some consumers who find themselves in dire financial straits intentionally overdraw their accounts to “borrow” needed funds, because the high bank fees are actually less than those attached to payday loans.
Walmart customers who use the banking services provided inside the chain’s stores are among the highest payers of fees — especially overdraft fees — in the U.S., a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal filings concluded.
The five banks with the most Walmart branches ranked among the top 10 U.S. banks in fee income as a percentage of deposits last year, the paper reported, compared to other U.S. banks that earn most of their income through lending.
It is a notable finding, especially given Walmart’s brand: First and foremost, the company has built a reputation for providing low-cost products at significant savings compared to other stores.
Walmart cannot be held completely responsible for the banks’ practices, of course. The financial sector is highly regulated, and no third-party retailer is in a position to set standards or make policies.
However, Walmart told the Journal that it has a thorough process for vetting banks to make sure they are in line with its philosophy.