SunTrust Banks in Atlanta has streamlined its checking-account product offerings, in a bid to make it easier for customers to choose a product and open an account.
The $189 billion-asset company now offers three types of consumer checking accounts, down from nine; and it cut the number of small business checking accounts from seven to four.
"After asking our clients what was important to them, we heard that navigating our previous checking packages was complicated," Angie Amberg, a bank spokeswoman, said in an interview. "We wanted to make navigation more streamlined and simplified, with clear differentiators between each offering."
SunTrust developed the product lines for more than a year, she said. Amberg declined to say how much SunTrust spent on the development.
The new product lineup is similar to what other banks in SunTrust's markets have done, but it's a good improvement, said Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates.
"It's not earth shattering, but some of the changes they've made are, I think, very consumer friendly, especially in their base account," Miller said.
Consumer account holders can access three levels of rewards, based on the extent of business they do with SunTrust. The base-level package includes a checking account with opportunities to waive the monthly maintenance fee; students are exempt from that fee for five years.
Monthly maintenance fees range between $7 and $25, depending on the package. The fees can be avoided with transaction behavior, such as conducting at least 10 transactions per month, or by maintaining certain balances, Amberg said.
The $7 monthly service charge is cheaper than fees of between $10 and $12 charged by Wells Fargo, Bank of America and BB&T, Miller said. A $7 monthly fee is "reasonable," he said.
"Before, there was not the option to waive the service charge," Miller said. "It's a nice twist for people that can't maintain the minimum balance, but are still regularly using their checking accounts."