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Citibank simplifies checking

By David McMillin ·
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Another big bank has heeded the call to make the terms and fee structures of its checking accounts easier to understand.

This week, Citibank announced that it will adopt the Pew Charitable Trust's model of a brief disclosure that outlines the nuts and bolts of its checking accounts. With the average length of disclosure documents at the nation's biggest banks clocking in at 69 pages, any efforts to condense this hefty reading material are good for everyday consumers. Citi is the third big bank to voluntarily make adjustments to these forms. TD Bank and Chase have already done so.

Adding another big bank to the list is a victory, but the overwhelming majority of the banking industry has yet to follow suit. According to Pew's most recent count, a total of only nine banks and credit unions have taken steps to adopt the model. Say what you will about big banks, but I give Chase, TD and Citi a lot of credit for leading the charge.

As banks have adjusted their business models in the wake of financial reform, consumers have been forced to deal with a wide range of varying restrictions, requirements and costs. Comparing banks has gotten more challenging. Who has the time to sift through an encyclopedic volume of disclaimers and complex language?

Pew is asking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to require banks to adjust their account disclosure documents in order to help account holders gain an accurate understanding of pricing and bank fees. However, the CFPB is tackling a number of different issues right now. From student loans to mortgages to credit card marketing, the bureau has a lot on its plate, and there hasn't been any word on whether the CFPB will implement Pew's suggested reforms.

Have you read your checking account terms? Does your bank need to simplify them?

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