Now for this next question suppose that, instead, you were provided with a new set of documents in which the accounts and fees are different, but the forms are presented in a uniform manner.
Suppose you want to open a checking account, and you’re looking to see which bank has the best deal. It should be simple—you’d just compare the terms and fees. But life is short, and you’ve got better things to do. “Make my life easy,” you say. “Give me information that’s consistent and easy to compare, like those nutrition labels on food.”
At Pew, that’s what we want to see, too, because we’ve done research on this issue and found that people have less trouble making comparisons when account disclosures look the same. That may sound pretty obvious, but our research shows that even minor differences in the presentation of terms and fees can affect how easily you find what you’re looking for.
See for yourself. Take our quick three-question quiz.
1.Monthly fees should be clear so you can easily shop around and compare costs, right? Based on a quick glance at these disclosures, which account do you think has the lowest monthly fee?
2.You make a lot of withdrawals using other banks’ ATMs. That can come at a price. Which account will charge you less?
3.Which set of forms was easier to compare?
Thanks for taking the quiz!
As you can see, uniform disclosures help consumers understand the terms and possible fees of a checking account more quickly and clearly, which in turn enables them to make more informed decisions and to comparison shop. Some very accommodating people took an entire survey on this topic. If you want to see how they did, what we learned, and why this issue matters, click here.