Bank of America Testing New Checking Account Fees

Only months after it backtracked on debit card fees, Bank of America is testing new checking account fees that would go into effect unless customers agree to certain conditions, such as banking online, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Last fall, Bank of America proposed a $5 a month debit card fee, which it rescinded weeks after a nationwide consumer revolt took hold – and even inspired “Bank Transfer Day.”
But Bank of America, the nation’s second largest bank by assets, and the other big banks are still looking to recoup reduced revenues from new regulatory limits on “swipe fees” that they can charge merchants for card transactions.
Bank of America pilot programs in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts are testing fees of $6 to $9 a month for an “essentials” checking account.
Other account options are under testing in those states with monthly charges of $9, $12, $15 and $25.  However, customers can avoid the fees by maintaining minimum balances, using a credit card or taking a mortgage with Bank of America, according to a memo distributed to employees and reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Media reports of Bank of America’s new fee plan immediately drew the ire of consumer advocates, including Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.
“It looks like Bank of America is up to its old tricks,” said Norma Garcia, manager of Consumers Union’s financial services team. “Consumers have made it loud and clear that they are fed up with new bank fees. Bank of America should drop this latest fee scheme or risk losing even more customers who are tired of being nickeled and dimed at every turn.”
Bank of America spokeswoman Anne Pace told Time Magazine that fees reported by the Journal are not new.
“We have been testing in select markets for more than a year and plan to continue to learn from those tests,” she said.
Bank of America isn’t commenting on a timetable for a nationwide rollout. Pace said details on the checking account fees have not been finalized.
“We have made no decisions on the construct of new product offerings,” she said.

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