Another One Bites the Dust
Yesterday I wrote about an entire account shutdown with Bank of America (BoA) that affected two Alaska credit cards that I held with the bank. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only shutdown that I found out about when I returned from my recent round-the-world trip a few days ago. Bremer Bank apparently didn’t like the way my account was going and shutdown my (2) checking accounts.
Bremer Bank was a resource I used to deposit money orders for manufactured spending (MS). It was a new account for me, only being open 3 weeks or so at the time I left for my round the world trip. When I departed on my trip, my Bremer Bank accounts weren’t being used, as my bills were all paid, so I didn’t bother to check into it while on the road. When I returned home though, I tried logging in and couldn’t. Then yesterday morning I called Bremer and was told that it was closed by the bank. When I asked why, the phone representative said that that information was contained in the letter that was sent to me. The only issue is that I never received a closure letter of any kind. I stopped into a local branch today and questioned the closure, but was given no information, even after having to wait nearly 30 minutes for a vague and nearly meaningless answer to my query. The banking representative at Bremer made about a dozen calls to various people and departments and still couldn’t find out why the account was closed. It was a little frustrating.
It’s also odd that the bank didn’t call me to ask questions, or send an email to pursue issues they seem to have had with my bank accounts. They just closed my account without notification. Minneapolis is still a fairly popular manufactured spending city, and I’m assuming I’m not the only person using Bremer Bank to deposit money orders. However, I also think that not that many people in the bank are really familiar with the travel rewards hobby. So seeing money orders in bulk, consistent and fairly large deposits, and frequent payments to outside accounts probably scared someone who made the decision.
I can’t login to check any of my information, but my deposits were around $60k in 3-4 weeks. That amount is actually pretty light for me, and I thought I was pursuing a fairly conservative path with the bank. Apparently not! I sent three larger payments to American Express for credit card bills during that time too, and received a call from a Bremer Bank representative questioning the first payment. After that talk, I wondered if I was the only business or account at Bremer that is paying out money on larger bills? Having $21,000 in an account and making an $18,000 payment shouldn’t set off alarm bells, but it seemed to have done that. Anyway, that first payment from the account probably put eyes on the account, which was the beginning of the end at Bremer for me.
Before leaving for my trip I had many checking accounts created especially for manufactured spending (MS). Losing Bremer Bank, which was my newest banking addition, isn’t devastating. It’s a nice banking option because it has a good amount of branches in convenient locations, but it can be replaced. In fact I opened an account with another bank yesterday, with a substantial new account bonus too. Bremer bank doesn’t have any competitive rewards credit cards, and I don’t have money or assets invested with the bank either. Apparently a check is in the mail for the funds that were still in my account. They waited 2 weeks to send out the funds, which also seems odd. I guess making a little money on the float is ok, but manufactured spending is not? Actually I don’t know what took them so long to mail out the check, but I’m definitely ready to move on.
Thinking about having 2 fairly major shutdowns over the past day made me think about what path I was on to earn travel and other credit card rewards. Am I hitting things too hard? Have I become lazy or sloppy in what I’m doing? What could I do better to avoid future issues? Is my current path sustainable? I think making some slight modifications need to happen to my current strategies in order to avoid further shutdowns. When higher MS volume is in play, some banking risks are nearly unavoidable. Losing this particular checking account isn’t that big of a deal. The loss of Bank of America for future rewards cards and possible investment options is much more troubling, although that can be overcome too.