Bank of America Adjusts Checking Accounts; Customers May Face New Fees

Bank of America Adjusts Checking Accounts; Customers May Face New Fees

Over July and August, Bank of America will begin phasing out traditional checking account products and move a half-million customers to new accounts.

We've seen this pattern a lot over the last couple years: banks changing their account offerings, increasing fees, and making it more difficult for customers to maintain free accounts. Among other things, this is a response to financial losses from foreclosures and to new regulations that make it harder for banks to generate revenue, Boston.com reports.

The Bank of America move in July and August will affect over 530,000 customers in three states, including approximately 170,000 accounts in Massachusetts. However, just because you may not be one of the ones affected during the July and August transition, doesn't mean you're safe from the transition. By the end of the year, Bank of America plans to move all customers nationwide to their new accounts.

Some customers who were able to get free accounts though the MyAccess checking by maintaining a $1,500 account balance or by making direct deposits every month will see the requirements increase if they want to still get a free account. The new account that is replacing MyAccess is called Enhanced checking. To get a free account under Enhanced checking, you must make deposits totaling $2,000 each month, maintain at least $5,000 in combined accounts, or use a bank credit card (not a debit card) at least once a month to avoid the $15 monthly fee.  Not all Bank of America credit cards qualify to get the monthly fee waived: secured cards and unsecured credit cards that are offered as a counter-offer, are not eligible for this service, according to the Bank of America website.  Bank of America says that there will be more ways to avoid the monthly fees under the new account structures. Although there may be more ways, they may be more difficult ways.

According to reports, nearly half of all American households have some type of relationship with Bank of America.  However, even smaller banks are implementing similar practices to try and make up for lost revenue. The Wall Street Journal reports that $5 ATM fees may be on the horizon in the near future. Chase, for example, is currently testing fees of $5 in Illinois and $4 in Texas for people who use a Chase ATM and aren’t a bank customer.

Depending on your current banking habits, the changes may not be an issue for you. If you already routinely maintain at least $5,000 in combined accounts, for example, you can keep your Bank of America free account. That’s why it’s always a good idea to regularly review your bank’s policies (and pay attention to any notices you receive in the mail), and determine how good of a fit the account is for your current habits.

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