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Bank of America is Latest Big Bank to Back Down on Debit Card Fees


Bank of America

After all the customer complaints, protests and news reports, the big banks have decided to give up on the debit card fees. Today Bank of America "cried uncle" on its home page:

We heard you. No debit card fees.

It seems like the banks were hoping that customers would accept the new debit card fees. The banks probably thought they had a good excuse based on the new debit card regulation that took effect in October. In today's environment when there's so much anger at the banks, that excuse just isn't acceptable.

Bank of America give up on debit card fees

Over the last week, several other banks have also decided to end their debit card fee plans. Here are some of them:

  • First Tennessee Bank announced today on its Facebook page that it will not be implementing the debit card transaction fee that took effect on October 22. No customers will receive this charge. First Tennessee was going to charge customers up to 14 cents per debit card transaction for up to $3 per month.
  • Regions Bank on October 31st issued a press release that "announced that it has eliminated the monthly CheckCard fee for all accounts, effective Nov. 1, and will refund CheckCard fees already incurred."
  • SunTrust Bank on October 31st issued a press release that "announced that it has eliminated the monthly Check Card fee on its Everyday Checking account. The fee will no longer be charged beginning Wednesday, November 2, 2011, but all clients who incur - or have previously incurred - the fee prior to that date will receive a full refund."
  • Wells Fargo on October 28th issued a press release that said "it is cancelling its planned five-state pilot of a monthly $3 fee for users of its debit cards as a response to customer feedback the bank has received."
  • JPMorgan Chase Bank didn't make an official announcement, but on October 28th, the WSJ reported that Chase "has decided that it won't charge customers who use their debit cards to make purchases, according to a person familiar with the bank's plans."

That WSJ article also stated that US Bank, Citibank, PNC Bank and Key Bank have "said in recent days that they won't impose monthly fees on debit cards."

Even though debit card fees have been eradicated, it doesn't mean the banks won't find other ways to make up for the loss revenue caused by the debit card regulation. Monthly service charges are now higher and harder to avoid. Citibank's new fee structure was one example of this. Also, you'll have to be watchful for higher fees for services like wire transfers and ATMs and paper statements.

So even with the banks backing down on this new debit card fee, it's still a good idea to participate in the Bank Transfer Day movement. Just remember that not all credit unions offer free checking accounts. I described one example in this July blog post. Make sure the credit union that you choose offers a truly free checking account. I described this and other features to look for in my post Finding the Best Free Checking Accounts at the Best Credit Unions.

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