Banks Waive Fees for Residents in Path of Hurricane Sandy

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Several U.S. banks, including Chase, are waiving fees for residents in the path of Hurricane Sandy

Updated: Tuesday, 12:10 p.m.

Anticipating a storm-related cash crunch and bill-paying delays, Chase and Citibank announced on Sunday that they would waive overdraft, ATM and/or late fees for customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who will get hit by historic Hurricane Sandy over the next 72 hours.

JPMorgan Chase — the nation’s largest bank — sent an e-mail to customers Sunday night, informing them that all overdraft fees and late fees on credit cards and business and consumer loans would be waived through Wednesday, Oct. 31. Customers have until the end of business Thursday to make sure their accounts and balances are up-to-date to avoid a fee.

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Similarly, Citibank announced that fees would be waived for New York City residents who use another bank’s ATM, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Bank of America has also announced that customers who have incurred fees due to Sandy can contact BofA to have those fees waived. “We will even refund fees for customers using other banks’ ATMs to withdraw cash in the hardest hit states if contacted,” says Bank of America spokesperson Mark Pipitone.

That’s good news for customers who would have to make deposits and payments at their local branches, many of which will be closed across the Northeast.

Citibank said its branches would be closed in flood-prone New York City areas. Wells Fargo said 162 banks across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut would be closed Monday, but a few may be open in New Jersey farther from the coast, according to Fox Business. And the Journal reported that Capital One also planned to close its 350 branches in New York and New Jersey.

On Monday, Capital One said that while it would not offer blanket waivers on fees and payments for those affected by Sandy, it would consider fee waivers and other modified payment plans on a case-by-case basis.

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Many of the banks’ corporate offices are located in downtown Manhattan, a low-lying region expected to experience flooding. Chase is located in a downtown mandatory evacuation zone and announced that it would close the office Monday. Citigroup also has some offices downtown that will likely be closed.

The nation’s biggest banks made similar concessions to customers in August last year when Hurricane Irene swept through the Northeast — but they did it after the storm. Wells Fargo and Chase both announced they were temporarily waiving certain fees. Chase waived them on credit cards and loans for several days, and Wells Fargo allowed customers to use out-of-network ATMs without fees.

As Sandy bears down on the Northeast, this repeat goodwill gesture is a welcome move — and good p.r. — by institutions that haven’t been terribly popular with Americans since the recession.