It’s expensive to be poor: Why low-income Americans often have to pay more

Source: The Economist, Vol. 416 no. 8954, September 5, 2015

…. Life is expensive for America’s poor, with financial services the primary culprit, something that also afflicts migrants sending money home (see article). …. Doing without banks makes life costlier, but in a routine way. Cashing a pay cheque at a credit union or similar outlet typically costs 2-5% of the cheque’s value. …. Pre-paid debit cards are growing in popularity as an alternative to bank accounts. …. Though receiving wages or benefits on pre-paid cards is cheaper than cashing cheques, such cards typically charge plenty of other fees. Many states issue their own pre-paid cards to dispense welfare payments. As a result, those who do not live near the right bank lose out, either from ATM withdrawal charges or from a long trek to make a withdrawal. Other terms can rankle; in Indiana, welfare cards allow only one free ATM withdrawal a month. If claimants check their balance at a machine it costs 40 cents. (Kansas recently abandoned, at the last minute, a plan to limit cash withdrawals to $25 a day, which would have required many costly trips to the cashpoint.) …..