I'm a Bank of America customer in good standing, with a decent balance, and a 17-year history. I've been a good customer. I have a no-fee checking account, do all of my bill paying electronically, and make most purchases with my debit card. I might write out one physical check every couple of months. And I rarely carry more than twenty or thirty dollars on me.
I'll be honest, even with pay and benefit cuts in this economy, a $5 per month fee is not going to break me. But $60 a year just to continue banking as I have since the Clinton Administration seems ridiculous. So, I'm contemplating switching banks. Which takes study, detailed notes undoing and redoing my electronic payments. And what's to stop my hypothetical new bank from changing their policy, and charging me for their debit card? [Story continues below]
All of this came out of a bill by Barney Frank and Chuck Dodd, which was created to protect consumers from all sorts of financial abuse by the big banks. The relevant part here cut debit card "swipe" fees at retailers in half. Supposedly, doing this would save retailers money, and they'd pass on the savings. . .which, I'll admit, is dubious. Those swipe fees were costing retailers a huge chunk of change, and the banks were getting very fat and happy from it. I don't know how much it actually costs a bank to move money around electronically, but I'm betting it is in the low pennies range.
So, Dodd-Frank stemmed the tide of mega-millions of dollars the banks were essentially getting for nothing. They're still pocketing a lot, mind you. Just not as much. So, naturally, any corporate entity that finds profits cut needs to find a way to get it back. Even if it's sort of an "ill-gotten gains" sort of situation. And so, Bank of America is sticking it to customers. Good customers. Like me.
Details are hard to find. But what I've found so far seems to be this: if you have a mortgage at BofA, or a $20,000 combined account balance, your $5 fee is waived. The Other Half has the mortgage, and my balance isn't that healthy. But in this economy, what percentage of BofA customers' is? So for now, I guess I pay the $5. But I'm keeping my options open in the coming months.
Banks Fire Back at President Obama Over Debit Card Fees
The American Bankers Association is firing back at President Obama for his comments in an interview about bank fees, including Bank of America's move to add a monthly fee for customers to use its debit cards. . .
Read more at: ABC News