What the NSF fees pay for. Since you want to know what you are buying, you are buying the people's time in handling an insufficient account. Although systems are automated, a bounced check still requires people to handle it. In an automated system where nothing bounces, no one ever even SEES your check (which is why you can't post date a check and have a bank honor it). The check has to be pulled from processing and mailed back to the store, usually after another person reviews to make sure it isn't a mistake. Personally, I think electronic payments with insufficient funds should cost less since no one actually handles the item, but I don't believe banks have the software available to differentiate between electronic purchases/transactions and checks.
I was really frustrated with USAA for some time over this issue. I had several NSF fees charged and simply didn't understand - I check my balance daily, set up the appropriate warning email/texts, and check pending and scheduled transactions regularly. Calling to get an explanation just wasn't working.
However, I finally got connected to a senior staffer at USAA FSB who said there is indeed a widespread issue with NSF fees being charged because USAA uses an automated, algorithmic system to process transactions at midnight each business day (I'm still lost on how Sunday night is a business day, but I'm a little slow...).
What this means is that you can have a transaction on Thursday that you assume has been deducted from your balance on Friday, after the Thursday night processing. Even though the payment posts and shows a zero payment due, it actually gets deducted from the banking account on the following Tuesday morning. Even if your available balance on Friday shows enough to cover the payment and everything looks fine you can still get hit with an NSF transaction. This can get worse because subsequent transactions pile on top of the earlier ones - even though the bank has not accurately deducted the earlier payments from your balance - then you have a bunch of transactions pile up early in the next week, and instead of only one NSF fee, you get three, four, five, etc., because you don't have the appropriate opportunity to fix it quickly.
Seems to me that if the bank has several days to report balances accurately, we should have several days to add funds to the account to cover payments. Yes, we're responsible, but because USAA gets to decide WHEN the payment is actually made, there should be an accomodation. I have other accounts that have an accurate balance and I don't have these issues.
Bottom line, she said, is that we have to use the old paper method to track our accounts,we cannot rely on the website to accurately reflect the balance in the account.
"Bottom line, she said, is that we have to use the old paper method to track our accounts,we cannot rely on the website to accurately reflect the balance in the account."
You can use a paper register or a money management program to track your balances based on all transactions you authorize. Another options is to use the "Add Transaction" function in your on-line checking account to note transactions that don't show immediately to your account (checks and future bill pay transactions). Doing this will show you your projected balance. Once the transaction appears, you can then match it to update your projected balance.