I am a huge fan of Fidelity Investments. I have been a customer for over 24 years and they are very nice to me, at least 99% of the time. In general I have nothing but GOOD to say about them. They do try.
But recently I discovered, to my cost, that their cash management policies, that have always been suspect, can lead to SERIOUS problems when it comes to Bill Pay.
Fidelity, of late, has been enticing all of their customers to partake in their Fidelity BillPay — and even offering incentives.
Well, be careful. Very careful.
A very nice lady representative (and 99.9% of Fidelity’s reps are OUTSTANDING) summed it up yesterday, very pithily as such: “However hard we (i.e., Fidelity) try in the end we are NOT a bank and continue to be a traditional brokerage house”. And that is the issue. Though they like to act and quack like a bank, in the end they are not.
Their cash management has always given me pause — though after all these years I have kind of come to terms with it. But it still bothers me.
If you buy stock (or equivalent) at Fidelity they IMMEDIATELY take your cash. Bang. Actually you can’t complete the transaction unless you have the cash or margins (and I don’t deal in margins (since I know I will be tempted)). That is OK.
But when I sell any stocks (or equivalents), HELD at Fidelity (and as such known to be liquid and beyond reproach) they don’t let me have cash to WITHDRAW till 3 days later. The old, traditional brokerage house 3-days to settle. That is duplicitous and disingenuous. But they get away with it because you have no choice. IF you trade with Fidelity those are THEIR rules.
Well Fidelity BillPay sometimes falls foul of their Brokerage House mentality and rules. You may have cash in your account and their system will tell you that you have cash BUT when it comes to BillPay that cash might not be accessible. It is crazy.
Best to do your bill pay through a band and just transfer funds from Fidelity to the bank. That is what I am now doing — via Bank of America.
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