In defense of TCF

Before I begin, let me declare my biases: I am a freshman born to a middle-class family. I opened a TCF Bank U Card Checking Account via an express package before Welcome Week.

I did so, not because of any strong-arming tactics, but because I decided that it would be a good first bank. With no monthly maintenance fee and no minimum balance, I went for it. Granted, the overdraft fees are legitimately high — some of the highest I’ve seen yet. Perhaps if I were less fortunate, and was consistently on the verge of being in the red, I would be more concerned. I don’t have a problem with the overdraft fees as they are.

Of course, I knew all of this when I signed up for the card. How could I not? They send enough paperwork that anything else would
be dereliction.

Perhaps there are some freshmen who eschew the basic work of reading the fine print before joining a program that could very well hold all of their money. I took that task as simply being a part of becoming an adult. I did the same before rejecting a credit card that offered a more than 29 percent annual percentage rate with a $25 annual fee.

Perhaps I’ve misjudged the situation, but the response should not be to decry TCF for acting like a business. Of course they’re going to emphasize the positives; that’s just common sense. It’s part of treating their clientele like adults. They make all of the negative information available when you start the process of signing up
for a card.

Now, I do understand that there are some people for whom the prospect of dancing on the edge of red and black is a daily struggle. For those people, there is always the consumer backdoor. Not only do you not have to become a client of TCF, but you can choose how you want your overdraft protection to function, or if you want protection at all. If you’re in a situation where you have to worry about overdraft fees, then it is your responsibility to deal with them. That may sound cruel. I prefer the
term “pragmatic.”

In that context, what does it matter if the University of Minnesota and TCF have the partnership they do?

I doubt that students are so unprepared for adult life that they wouldn’t at least ask their parents if they’re being offered a good deal or not. This is especially true after the financial course freshmen received before the semester.

If the University is being paid for each student that opens up an account, that’s between the University and TCF Bank. If students were being forced into it, I would have a different opinion, but for now I think the strength of the consumer backdoor is such that this is a triviality.