Chicago Shoppers Turning To Big Box Stores For Financial Services
Kmart's latest blue light special might not be on clothing or toys, but on financial services.
With millions of Americans looking for checking account alternatives to avoid rising bank fees, retailers like Kmart, Wal-Mart and Best Buy are jumping on the banking bandwagon, according to The Washington Post. Kmart, for instance, is testing out prepaid cards, cash transfers and even cash checking services in its Illinois stores in hopes of luring customers who are either fed up with big banks or who never had a bank account in the first place. But as with any product, consumers are finding there are pros and cons.
On the one hand, retailers are offering many of the same services as a traditional checking account - paycheck cashing, a card that can be used for purchases and a way to pay the bills or otherwise transfer money - without the drawbacks of account fees and credit card interest. And of course, there's also the convenience of combining your shopping and banking needs into one trip.
On the other hand, retailer's services come with costs of their own. For instance, cashing your paycheck can mean forking over up to 4 percent of the check's value. And prepaid cards can come with a fee for loading money, a fee for use and even a fee for non-use.
So how do you decide if big-box store banking is right for you? You've got to read the fine print and weigh the benefits with the costs. You may find you're better off opening a free checking account - you get the convenience of a real bank, with few or none of the fees. Or maybe you'll decide it really is worth a few extra bucks to not deal with a bank, period. But if you're looking for a change to escape past financial problems - for instance, maybe you've maxed out a credit card or three or racked up one too many overdraft fees - you'll probably find yourself disappointed.
The only way to find a true fresh start is to wipe your old mistakes clean - and when it comes to debt, that often means filing for bankruptcy. Wondering if bankruptcy is right for you? Find out for sure with a free personal debt analysis courtesy of a Chicago bankruptcy attorney.