In the past week, the largest United States banks have pledged to temporarily zero out their customers’ negative balances so they can get access to their stimulus money and put it toward whatever expense seems the most pressing. Negative balances typically include the various fees that banks tack on to customers’ accounts for letting the customers withdraw more money than they have. However, some regional and community banks — which often serve areas where there is little competition, including poor neighborhoods and rural communities — are pursuing different approaches.
Aside from the temporary truces some banks have made with their customers around the stimulus checks, banks have not modified their overdraft policies during the pandemic, Ms. Borné said. “Charging unreasonably high fees, multiple fees per day, extended fees and other practices that manipulate the charges to maximize the fees — those practices hurt those struggling the most,” she said.