Think that you’re safe from annoying bank fees if you don’t overdraw your account and use only your bank’s ATM machines? Think again. Starting in 2012, Bank of America will charge customers $5 per month to use their debit card! It will not matter how many times you use your debit card–once or 50–but even just one swipe will activate the $5 monthly charge. If you do not use your card at all, then you won’t be charged, and you can still use ATMs as much as you want, free of charge. (Right, as long as you stick to Bank of America ATMs.) But seriously, who carries cash around with them all the time and never uses a debit card?
This is outrageous. Overdraft fees are understandable, and ATM fees, albeit irritating, are something that most people are used to. But a debit card fee? What gives, Bank of America? Apparently the implementation of these new fees involves new rules that limit the revenue banks will be able to get from merchants; soon, banks can charge retailers every time customers use their debit cards. Banks used to charge an average fee of 44 cents, and now the maximum fee is only 21 cents. This seemingly little change will cost the banking industry billions of dollars. Many financial institutions complained, but the Federal Reserve stood firm. So who has to pay for the banks losing money? The customers do. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Bank of America will officially notify their customers of this change “at least 30 days before it takes effect” in January–perhaps enough time for people to start thinking about switching banks. However, other banks have also been toying with the idea of introducing fees for debit card swipes. But Bank of America is one of the first major institutions to announce that it will make this a reality. Many people use Bank of America for its convenience, but will that convenience factor be worth the extra $60 a year just to use your debit card?