Bank of American Retreats on $5 Debit Card Fee

Bank of American Retreats on $5 Debit Card Fee

The WSJ is reporting today that Bank of America has pulled the plug on its planned $5 monthly debit card fee. It's no real surprise considering the negative press and the online uproar.

The WSJ is reporting today that Bank of America has pulled the plug on its planned $5 monthly debit card fee. It's no real surprise considering the negative press and the online uproar. Online sites, social networks, and message forums have been full of customer complaints about the fee as well as customer threats to close accounts and leave the bank because of it. This, and the fact that competitors such as Chase and Citibank decided not to levy a fee, forced Bank of America's hand.

I suspect the bank made the decision based on two factors:

  • Being the lone major bank with the fee would put it at a competitive disadvantage in claiming its fair share of checking accounts. Not only did the other major banks back away from a fee, but startups such as PerkStreet Financial (a financial company that offers a debit card with no fee and 2% cash back) and smaller banks and credit unions were capitalizing on the news.
  • The negative public sentiment was more than the battered bank wanted to deal with. Since the financial crisis and the purchase of Countrywide, Bank of America has been contending with a string of bad news related to losses, government assistance, subprime loans, mortgage modifications, and more.

The fee came in response to the Durbin Amedment, which lowered the amount banks could charge merchants when a customer uses a debit card. The Amendment is estimated to cost banks billions of dollars per year in lost revenue.

As banks try and recoup this revenue, look for more account and service fees.

Reviews

  • J.G.

    November 02, 2011

    So now that all big banks have backtracked on their plans to charge debit card fees, where does that leave us? Will they, humbled by popular outcry and cowered by politicians' threats, give up on their plans to make up for the huge revenue losses they will suffer as a result of the passing of the Durbin Amendment? No, they will not. What will happen instead is that the card issuers will find other, less conspicuous ways to get what they want. They will learn from the debit card fee disaster and devise more subtle strategies to achieve their objective.

    When the dust settles, new revenue sources will be found and the issuers will recoup their losses. The upshot will be a rise in revenue for retailers, due to lower card processing fees, at the expense of consumers who will end up paying higher bank fees of some sort or other. The card issuers will not be worse off than before the Durbin Amendment was enacted and may actually be better off. http://blog.unibulmerchantservices.com/banks-abandon-debit-card-fees-will-find-more-subtle-ways-to-raise-revenue

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