Limit on the NUMBER of Debit Card transactions per day?
August 26, 2013 2:49 PM   Subscribe

The cash is in the account. (Free and clear, not waiting on holds to drop or checks to clear.) The Debit MasterCard is declined. I call Customer Service. The rep tells me that the account has exceeded the daily transaction limit. It’s 4pm on Monday. Special Snowflake details inside. The cash is in the account. The Debit MasterCard is declined.

LOCATION: Northeast Ohio, USA

My wife was picking up food at our local Aldi.
This is a grocery store that does not take credit cards at all, but will accept PINed debit cards.
She called me before going to make sure there is enough in this checking account, so she is not burned at the register.
I had checked earlier, but I double checked. I let her know that unless she is buying enough groceries to feed a horde of hungry Mongols, she should be fine.

She called about 30 minutes later.
The card was declined.
I log in to our account, and there is plenty of money to cover her purchase.
(The money is in the account free and clear – we are not waiting for any deposits to clear, nor are we waiting on a hold to lift. )
I call the bank to find out what’s going on.
They explain to me that we have exceeded the NUMBER of debit card transactions allowed on our checking account.
I ask the rep to tell me what the ALLOWED number is.
She puts me on hold for a long time.
She comes back and tells me that we are allowed 25 transactions per day.
I quickly count the number of transactions on line. There are 8. One is from buying coffee this morning, and the rest are transactions from the weekend that have cleared.
I ask how she got to twenty-five transactions.
She explains that the transaction limits are per BUSINESS day. Monday is the end of a single, super-long, business day.
It started at 3:45 AM on Friday and will end at 3:45 am on Tuesday.
Sure enough, we are at 25 transactions if we use that method to count.

I ask the rep if she is able to adjust the transaction number for us.
It’s been fine for regular daily use, but we use that account for EVERYTHING – I’d hate to be stranded somewhere if I was counting on being able to use the card.
I am put on hold a long time, and she comes back.
No. There is no way to raise, or adjust the daily transaction limit.
I ask to speak to a supervisor. Extended hold times ensue.
A supervisor comes on. She also can not adjust this limit.
She explained that this is a Mastercard rule, and that BANK can not adjust or change it.
I ask if this daily transaction limit was disclosed in the account agreement, and if so, can she please tell me where.
On hold for a long time, and then she came back to tell me that “it is in one of our disclosures, but we can’t find it right now.”
She assures me that she will find it and send me a copy in the mail.

20 minutes of googling later – I found the disclosure.
(I’d normally link directly to it, but I have no idea what the rules on that sort of thing are. I scanned it, whited out the bank name, and reposted it to Scribd. You can see it here: )
The relevant bits seem to be these, under the heading
“Types of Available Transfers and Limits on Those Transfers”
>There are limits on the frequency and dollar amounts of transfers within any period using your card, as follows:
>(c) There may be limits on the number of POS (point-of-sale) transactions you can have each day.
>(d) For security reasons, there may be other limits on the transfers you can make using our terminals or POS terminals.

I found similar limits at other institutions:
“The aggregate daily limit for the number of transactions permitted with a Visa® Debit Card is 20 and 10 for the Standard ATM card.”.

The things that make me angry are:
1.) No where on their material does my bank disclose the actual daily transaction limit. Am I supposed to guess?
2.) Other banks DO disclose the limit. Even if it is in the fine print, they GIVE A NUMBER.
3.) My bank seems to be playing a little loose with the definition of a “business day” This link: seems to show that while the weekend should count for Monday, that Friday’s business show be a separate day. Am I reading that right?

I am closing out this account as soon as I am able. Do any Me-Fiers know of a bank in Northeast Ohio that:
1.) Offers online banking with free billpay
2.) Free checking, or easy ways to have the fee waived (direct deposit, debit card usage, etc.)
3.) Has 24 customer service by phone (This bank has VERY limited phone hours).

Thanks in advance.
posted by RevRob330 to Work & Money (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know what the daily limit on my debit card is, but I've had the account/card for almost ten years and I'm sure that I would have tripped the absurd Friday-Monday day limit by now if it existed.

So I really only can answer your last question, which is that I've been very, very happy with Citibank. I have never, ever paid a fee (I've been charged them a few times but I call and spend 5 minutes on the phone and it's gone) and every time I've called them for anything I've been able to speak to a rep immediately. Also, Citibank is everywhere.
posted by phunniemee at 2:57 PM on August 26, 2013

I use USAA checking.

1) Free online banking (it's 100% online, in fact) with free billpay.
2) Free checking.
3) Insanely great 24-hour customer service. When I say "Insanely great," I mean this: I have never before had bank employees eagerly and unprompted offer to waive
4) I don't know if there are daily limits on number-of-times for credit card use; you could call and ask. There's a $3000/day limit for debit/credit transactions and a $600 ATM withdrawl fee - but, see #3. If you need to raise a limit, or make a larger purchase, just call up and talk to 'em and the friendly folks on the other side will make it happen.

(And before you ask, with 100% online banking, where are their ATMs? The answer is they have no ATMs, but you get the first $15 of ATM fees refunded. I use any random ATM I see sitting around to do my withdrawals, whether at a bank or a bar, and the $2.50 fee or whatever it is gets refunded at the end of the month.)

I'm a huge fan and a very happy customer.
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:09 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Climbing on the USAA bandwagon! And while you need to have be a service member or have one in your family to get their car insurance, ANYONE can sign up for a checking account. I couldn't be more satisfied with them.

Also, if you get paid by direct deposit, your check will deposit one day earlier than everyone else's at your organization. A nice little perk!
posted by srrh at 3:12 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love Navy Federal Credit Union. I don't know if they have a specific limit, but we've never hit it and we've definitely had over 25 transactions/day. The customer service on the phone is great.

If you qualify, check it out.
posted by desjardins at 3:43 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know people who use their Huntington accounts a pretty crazy amount who've never complained about something like this, although you might want to call ahead to be sure. (Their disclosures do not seem to indicate anything of the sort, anyway, that I can see.) I can furthermore say that their online services seem to be quite good and their customer service hours are 24/7. There also may be one located in your Giant Eagle.

I hedge this just a smidge because I've been a PNC customer, but I am switching off of them because they're just introducing more and more hoops for stupid things, so my Huntington experience so far is rather limited.
posted by Sequence at 3:50 PM on August 26, 2013

One caveat on USAA if you're not a service member: photo check deposit is only available for accounts with more than one service, and since banking is the only service available to non-service-members, that means no photo check deposit. So, if you ever deposit paper checks, you'd need to mail them in.

Another really nice online bank is Simple. I don't know what the hours are for their customer service, but it's available by chat or phone, and so far has been really nice and really helpful -- on par with USAA.

The catch with Simple is that you don't actually get paper checks -- you set up a transaction on their site, and the mail them for you. This works fine for bills, but less well if you want to write a check at a store.

It's an online-only bank -- you set the account up with a smartphone, then use the phone to do photo check deposit. The website has some really nice reporting and budgeting features. I've been extremely happy with them.

If the restriction on checks would work for you (or you have questions about how thinks work), MeMail me and I can give you an invite.
posted by duien at 3:56 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

We love USAA, we do all of our banking and insurance through them. They actually do have ATM's and brick and mortar banks but it's only around military bases. They are absolutely wonderful and the one snafu we had with them (that was totally our fault, husband and I both logged in and paid the mortgage!) they cleared up in less than 10 minutes with no hassle.

According to this here the daily limits are: $3,000/day debit transactions, $600/day ATM withdrawals and 10 free non USAA ATM uses per month (they credit them back at the end of the month).
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 4:39 PM on August 26, 2013

One caveat on USAA if you're not a service member: photo check deposit is only available for accounts with more than one service, and since banking is the only service available to non-service-members, that means no photo check deposit. So, if you ever deposit paper checks, you'd need to mail them in.

This actually changed recently - I'm a non-veteran/servicemember and a couple of months ago, the iPhone app updated to include photo deposit for everyone. I don't have any actual checks to try it with, but the check-photo interface comes up just fine.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:21 PM on August 26, 2013

I'm going to take a slightly different stance and ask you to just take a minute and breathe....and hear me out. Banking institutions as a whole suck! We can all agree on that. And right now you hate your bank with the heat of 10,000 suns. But changing banks sucks even more. If you are at all like me, tons of stuff happens automatically that are tied to your debit card & checking account. Power bill, Gym membership, Utilities, insurance payments, on and on and on Itunes gifts, subscribtions it goes on and on. You will have to change all that, start a new relationship with a new bank, order new checks, learn all the new rules etc etc. All because of one silly rule, granted a stupid rule. But there is a very simple way around this PARTICULAR rule. At least there is at SunTrust where I bank. The key here is multiple cards! Get one for you, one for the wife, one in the dogs name, one in the cats name, you can probably just make up a name. ( probably best not to used dead peoples names) Just whip on into your bank and give them the names that you want the cards in. They will all have different Mastercard numbers but will all tie to the same account. You can have the dogs card and the wife can have the cats or vice versa (best to add your last name for pets cards.) They can all have the same pin number if you like. This will get you 25 transactions per day per card, carry as many cards as needed.
posted by HappyHippo at 7:21 PM on August 26, 2013

I've used Ally bank for 4 years, and have been really happy with them. They are online only, but there is photo check deposit, and 24 hour customer service, and they waive/return ATM fees since they don't have any branded ATMs.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:49 PM on August 26, 2013

Response by poster: HappyHippo - I may not have been clear - we had hit 25 transactions TOTAL for the "business day" - that includes both her card and mine. Probably 18 or so were mine (when we are together, I tend to be the one who pays, although it's coming from the same, joint account). So, we can't add 25 transactions willy-nilly. (I actually asked them about this when I was on with them today.)

All with USAA - neither of us are military, and the qualifying member of the family doesn't have an account with them. We may look further into it though - EVERY online discussion of banks brings out the USAA evangelists - I see other banks named for good experiences, but USAA is ther only one I see with near-unanimous praise.

Any other suggestions?
posted by RevRob330 at 8:20 PM on August 26, 2013

RevRob330: "HappyHippo - I may not have been clear - we had hit 25 transactions TOTAL for the "business day" - that includes both her card and mine. Probably 18 or so were mine (when we are together, I tend to be the one who pays, although it's coming from the same, joint account). So, we can't add 25 transactions willy-nilly. (I actually asked them about this when I was on with them today.)"

Can you or your wife just open a separate account and link it to your joint account so that you can transfer money to maintain appropriate balances in each?

I get that you're seriously pissed off at both the nonsensical inconvenience of the super-long business day ridiculousness and the shoddy customer service, but if you can set up a workaround like this just for the time being, it will let you shop for a new bank with a clearer head and less pressure.
posted by desuetude at 9:07 PM on August 26, 2013

USAA no longer allows non-military people to apply for their banking products. People with existing accounts are grandfathered in. I used to have an account, but I closed it when they changed their policy.

I now have an account with E*TRADE Bank, which I have been happy with, but I don't have experience using their debit card as a debit card. They don't have branches, so they reimburse ATM fees, making ATM use free if you keep a minimum balance of $5,000.

But yeah, banks are usually kind of low on the love list, really.
posted by overleaf at 10:04 PM on August 26, 2013

Have you considered using a rewards credit card to pay for everything (except Aldi) instead of the debit card? Such a habit would render your bank's silly 96-hour business day irrelevant. We use a CC for virtually all POS purchases, pay it off every month and end up with a few hundred bucks worth of free gift cards to Amazon or the local gas station each year.

FWIW, our checking is a Virtual Wallet account with PNC. I don't know how many branches they have in Akron, but they have locations in Cleveland. They refund up to $8 in fees for using other banks' ATM's each month. The online banking / billpay interface is quite good, but the check deposit feature on their iPhone app only seems to work for handwritten checks; machine-printed checks with small text are always rejected IME. It's a big bank so customer service is probably 24 hours but I can't promise that, and since we don't use debit much I'm unfamiliar with transaction limits.
posted by jon1270 at 3:47 AM on August 27, 2013

I'm another happy USAA user - sorry to hear it is no longer open to everyone! I haven't used it personally, but when I was weighing options the next best option looked like the Schwab Online Checking Account.
posted by susanvance at 5:02 AM on August 27, 2013

USAA is still open to anyone whose parent was a service member OR has an existing USAA account. My family just did this, and USAA has a low-cost "Legacy" insurance policy to make it easy to qualify.

My dad was the service member. I bought Mom and Dad a $5k Legacy insurance policy to get things started; then our daughter bought my husband and I a Legacy policy. Now all my siblings and children can open accounts and purchase policies (which we have).

The MeFites above are right - USAA's service is breathtaking! We're very happy we changed.
posted by summerstorm at 7:24 AM on August 27, 2013

I swear by Schwab Direct. I've been with them for years and they're amazing. They refund all ATM fees and I've never hit a daily transactions limit. They have great phone support, and the operators always seem to be someone local (not overseas). You can deposit checks up to $10,000 per day via the app. Because they're also connected to a brokerage house, they're great for international wire transfers in non-USD currencies, too (don't know if that matters to you).

I also have an account at a local credit union just so I have a bank with a person I can talk to face-to-face (and for loan products when I was considering a house purchase). All the advantages of a bank, none of the fees or headaches (Oh, you didn't mean to order those checks when you opened the account? Just keep them and we'll refund the fee. Oh, you lost your debit card? Here, let me print you a new one in 3 minutes while you wait for free <>
I agree with what jon1270 said, I use rewards CCs for everything but Aldi and the Farmer's Market and just pay the balances off every month. You get the extra grace period where your money gets to earn interest (those pennies add up..... sigh) and you get rewards/points/travel, whatever. And it helps your credit history.
posted by yggdrasil at 9:17 AM on August 27, 2013

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