Bank Of America To Charge Monthly Debit Card Fee

BOSTON (CBS) – Some large banks have been experimenting with charging fees for debit accounts, but now, Bank of America announced pans to start charging all of their customers $5 a month for using their debit card.

While the bank explains that customers will only be charged the fee if they use their debit cards for purchases in any given month, consumer advocates are crying foul.

The fees will be rolled out starting early next year, but customers are already reacting to the news.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports

Without a lot of cash for purchases, Victor Castro always whips out his debit card. “Regularly, daily, multiple times,” he said.

He believes Bank of America is already getting enough of his money. “We have credit cards with Bank of America,” he says. “They already get interest from us, other fees, and now just adding it on, when does it stop?”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Anthony Silva reports

Other customers say they’ll consider leaving the bank. “I can use the ATM without having to pay a fee. Now they’ll start charging me fees, it defeats the purpose of why I signed up with them in the first place,” said Joanna Kalogerocoulos.

Customers won’t be charged if they only use their card at the ATM, but once a debit purchase has been made, the five dollar fee will be triggered. It will apply to basic accounts and will be in addition to any monthly fees customers are already being charged.

“That would be sixty dollars a year to use my own money. I don’t like that,” said Romana West.

A fee for using debit cards is still a novel concept for many consumers and was unheard of before this year.

But there are signs it could soon become an industry norm. SunTrust, a regional bank based in Atlanta, began charging a five dollar debit card fee on its basic checking accounts this summer. Chase and Wells Fargo are also testing a three dollar monthly debit card fee in select markets.

The move may be motivated by a new regulation that kicks in October 1. It will cap the fees banks can collect from merchants whenever customers swipe their debit cards. Currently the bank can make about forty-four cents a purchase. That will be capped at twenty-four cents.

But if it’s the bank strapped for cash, customers say don’t look to them. “I’m pretty unhappy about it. Never thought of leaving Bank of America before now,” said Romana West.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano contributed to this report.

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