Over July and August, the nation’s biggest bank plans to start phasing out traditional checking products and move 530,000 customers in three states - including 170,000 in Massachusetts - to a new slate of accounts. By the end of next year, it plans to move all of its checking customers nationwide to the new offerings
You can see what the new checking accounts look like by going to the Bank of America checking account page and selecting Massachusetts for the state. The MyAccess Checking Account will no longer be available. I guess even after the higher MyAccess Checking fees they added last month, that still wasn't enough. Below is a review of the four new checking accounts:
Bank of America Essentials Checking Account
This new account is their most basic checking account. It does not include Bill Pay, and there's a $6 monthly fee with no option to have this waived.
Bank of America eBanking Checking Account
This is similar to their current eBanking account. However, the monthly fee if you don't meet the e-banking requirements is higher ($12 instead of $8.95). The e-banking requirements is that you make all deposits and withdrawals online or at an ATM (not at a teller) and sign up for paperless statements.
Bank of America Enhanced Checking Account
This new account looks to be the closest replacement for the MyAccess Checking. To avoid a $15 monthly fee, you must deposit at least $2,000 per month, maintain a minimum daily combined deposit balance of $5,000 or use an eligible Bank of America credit card at least once a month.
Bank of America Premium Checking Account
This appears to replace their Advantage with Tiered Interest Checking. This Premium checking is a 4 tiered-interest checking account. Of course the interest rate is so low that it has no value. For example, the highest rate is currently only 0.10% for a $100K balance. There's a $25 monthly fee with two ways to have this fee waived: 1) Maintain a combined balance of $20K in deposit accounts and/or Merrill Lynch investment accounts, or 2) Have an eligible linked Bank of America mortgage.
Other New Fees at Bank of America
The Boston.com article also mentioned other new fees that Bank of America is adding. Later this month a new overdraft fee goes into effect. According to the article "the bank will impose a $35 fee if customers overdraw their account by a penny; previously, customers were charged only if they were overdrawn by $10 or more." Bank of America has also increased its early withdrawal penalty on CDs. As I described in this Bank of America CD penalty post, it's now charging a flat $25 plus 1% of the amount withdrawn for CDs with terms under 12 months and 3% for longer terms. With their CD rates so low, I guess they determined their old penalties of 6 or 12 months of interest are too small.
Do You Have a Bank of America Account?
In my Bank of America new fees post last month I asked readers if they still have a Bank of America Account or used to have one. Out of 75 readers who responded, 48% said they still have an account and 29% said they used to have one (the poll is still active). That's inline with a statistic mentioned in the Boston.com article. According to the article "half of American households have an account or relationship with" Bank of America. According to the Federal Reserve, Bank of America is the largest bank in the U.S. in terms of assets. With new fees being added each month, hopefully we will see Bank of America losing customers.
New Fees May Be More Common
There will likely be many other banks adding new fees. With the new debit card fee regulation that's scheduled to take effect soon, banks, especially large banks, will be looking for new ways to replace the lost debit card interchange revenue.
Free Checking Alternatives
With credit unions, community banks and internet banks, there's no reason to pay maintenance fees at Bank of America or any other mega bank. Three internet banks that offer free checking accounts are ING Direct, Incredible Bank and Ally Bank. Ally would be the best choice if you want paper checks.
For credit unions, Alliant Credit Union has one of the best free checking accounts.
And don't forget that the vast majority of high-yield reward checking accounts are also free checking accounts with no monthly fees even if you don't meet the debit card usage requirements. If you're new to reward checking, my post on the 10 common traits of high-yield reward checking accounts should be useful. There are still many local deals that are better than what's available nationwide. You can find these in our reward checking account rate table. Be sure to use the "Filter Accounts" button above the table to compare accounts in your state.
Edit 10:48am: Enhanced checking requires only a $2K deposit and not a direct deposit.