Skip to comments.Bank of America's $5 Debit Fee: How Bad Will the Backlash Be?
Posted on 10/02/2011 9:36:18 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
(The news that BofA customers will soon shoulder a monthly charge for debit purchases sparks outrage and threats to abandon the bank altogether.)
Bank of America, proclaiming that its bottom line is hurt by new legislation that limits how much money banks can charge retailers for the privilege of letting customers pay with debit cards, announced that it will make up for those losses by charging customers a $5 monthly fee. The fee takes effect in 2012 and affects any customer who makes debit purchases. ATM and credit card transactions will remain free. Predictably, the bank's customers are not happy. Fox Business Network's Gerri Willis even cut up her debit card on air. The company's stock tumbled Friday morning following the news, and customers are threatening to leave the bank.
How much will this backlash hurt BofA?
Customers are going to jump ship: "I've been a more-or-less satisfied Bank of America customer for years," says Jon Gorey at The Street. But if the bank intends to charge a $5 monthly fee for "something I can do elsewhere for free, I'm gone." There are plenty of other options, including local banks and online-only competitors like ING Direct, which, unlike Bank of America, aren't charging any fees for debit use. "Thank you, competitive free market."
This could spell the end of debit: It's easy for customers to avoid these fees, says Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic. "They just have to stop using their debit cards." And it's likely that they will. A $5-a-month fee to use debit "would push me not to use it in any case other than emergencies" especially when that fee doesn't apply to withdrawing cash from an ATM or using a credit card. Indeed, "debit could fade away altogether." "Did Congress kill the debit card?"
Hold on. BofA might change its mind: Sadly, Bank of America isn't the only bank set to start charging debit fees, says Sarah Halzack at The Washington Post. But many see the new fees as "trial balloons" they're testing customers to see how many will tolerate the charges. Consumers should continue to be vocal about their displeasure with these banks, "as they might ax the fee if enough customers gripe about it." "In wake of Bank of America's new debit charge, tips on how to avoid fees"
Actually, Bank of America may win this fight: For now, angry customers are threatening to abandon the bank, says Jessica Dickler at CNN. But it's Bank of America "that could have the last laugh." After all, changing banks isn't exactly a breeze.
Once consumers realize the hassle of it all from having checks printed to switching their automatic payments they're likely going to suck it up and stay with Bank of America.
As a retired USAF member, its very easy to change banks. I have done it many times. Goodbye BoA!
I close my BOA account a couple of years ago.
At one point in time my mortgage was sold to these bloodsuckers. They were the biggest PITAs to deal with.
God Bless My Local Credit Union!
I never bought into debit cards.
I’ve refused for years to use BofA, Citi, and Wells Fargo. Good, let BofA lose a few customers and watch them tank. Too bad, so sad.
Agreed. I have dealt with many banks over the years. In my experience, it's hard to beat a credit union.
Bank of America sucks. I finally left them last year for Navy Federal Credit Union. Guess what, arrogant B of A? It wasn’t that hard! Bank of America’s customer service was terrible and they charged fees for everything. They suck. I’m glad I left and I haven’t regretted it for a minute.
This sucks. But I probably won’t change banks to avoid a $5 monthly fee. I know I should, but it would be too much hassle. I’m sure BOA is counting on bozos like me...
Thank You, Chris Dodd. Good riddance. Take that Frank guy with you while you are going out the door.
Pretty socialist for a FReeper.
I close my BOA account a couple of years ago.
Me too. USAA has been pretty good to deal with.
However, one thing lost in this article and the disdain for BofA is the involvement once again of Bawney Fwank and Chris Dodd. This is another unintended consequence of legislation by this dynamic duo.
It is fiscally irresponsible for a private party with limited funds to bank with BOA. During the last 20 years BOA has made a serious effort to discourage families and individuals with limited income from banking with them. Their complaint has always been based on reducing the cost of services to checking account customers.
There are many small, local banks with a very high level of customer satisfaction. They will learn your name and provide personal services beyond anything a large bank is capable of providing.
Again, it is fiscally irresponsible for a private party with limited funds to bank with BOA. Close the account and move on.
Mine is run completely by women. Not sure that makes a difference, but it seems to! :)
They helped my friend save her home when medical bills were going to wipe her out...
They helped me keep my farm when my POS ex had stolen all of our retirement funds and used them to support his drug addiction...
They’re pre-approving me for a used truck when I need one next year...
Their interest rate on an emergency CC is 8% versus the 24% the regular bank could now legally charge me...
They actually PAY ME a decent interest return on my savings account...
My closing went smooth as silk. They were SO professional and nice!
Can’t say enough good things about them!
“ATM and credit card transactions will remain free.”
Yes, but for how long? IMHO they will soon go the same way as the “free” debit card transaction.
BLUF - Banks are a business that cycle through money. They don’t have large stashes of money sitting the in vaults. Their profit is based on money moving through their institutions. Anything that reduces that flow of money (aka profit) will be made up elsewhere.
With near zero interest rates, a depressed housing market, a purchases of durable goods heading for the bottom there isn’t enough money moving through the banks to pay their bills and their employees. Add to this the real impact of recent Congressional “help” and the banks are hurting.
Their options are to either fail (see the 1933 Depression era “Run on the Banks”) or make money elsewhere.
The question each one of us must answer is: Are we personally better of with a Bank or without one?
I know my answer. What is yours?
See Post 15. :)
They never made much sense to me either. Debit cards hit the checking account directly, so if there are mistaken or fraudulent charges it can cause other payments to bounce, while a credit card provides a firewall between your money and the outside world. Credit cards have better rewards programs. Credit cards have more legal protections which weren't put on debit cards. And credit cards allow me to borrow money for a month and pay it back later, thus I can keep earning 0.01% interest on my checking... hmm, that sounded more impressive back when my checking account was a six percent money market account.
I think I've used debit cards outside of an ATM twice, and both times the bank had to bribe me with some goodie to use it.
Unfortunately, they still set the trends for other banks to follow...I expect to see many other banks adopting the same money gouging, while smiling innocently and saying "But our fees are only half of what BofA charges."
Privatized Crony Capitalism.
My cousin told me in June this and Banks are not allowed to tell the truth about why the Debit Card fees
Someone on FB said they went to a BoA branch and there were long lines of people yanking their accounts and that person drove to a different branch and found the same thing.
This person lives in the Galveston-Houston TX area.
Apparently most of the people that person asked said they were putting their money into a credit union.
See what happened to Netflix over $7.99? I think BofA could see a sizable amount of defections.
I changed banks then reopened BOA because of their lower fees for international banking, but the debit card is the only way to access the money.
This might be severe enough to kill off my last account with them.
I quit doing business with BofA many years ago when they processed checks before their deposits - resulting in NSF check fees when the money was in the account to cover the checks. Been with a credit union now since around 1994 and was perfectly happy, until they jacked up the interest on my credit card by four percentage points because of a disputed medical bill that showed up on my credit report. Okay, fine, so now I still use the card but I pay it off as soon as I use it. Bingo, no interest charges at all. Who’s the real winner and loser now?
The backlash should be directed at Congress.
Part of the reason Congress gets away with this is that every time they do it, people blame it on private industry. It’s not the result of the capitalist system. It’s the result of regulation, and government.
I dumped Bank of Hispanoamerica, the bank of the illegal aliens, when the signs started appearing in Spanish.
Hablo espanol y me encantan las cosas tradicional de la cultura mexicana, but I speak Spanish because I want to, not because I need to.
Have 4 months left to pay off a loan. I have reduced my account to 5 bucks. Will be leaving after the last payment.
We were in the middle of dumping these vermin anyway. Timeline just got moved up.
I remember going to a BofA branch to make a payment on my CC. I’m standing in line and a manager comes up asking if anyone just wants to make a payment. I said I did. My payment was for $14. The manager took my coupon and check and I left. Later when I viewed my checking statement I saw where I was charged $11 for an “assisted payment” - $11 for the manager to take my payment. $4 went to the card! I pulled my account the next day.
“The backlash should be directed at Congress.
Part of the reason Congress gets away with this is that every time they do it, people blame it on private industry. Its not the result of the capitalist system. Its the result of regulation, and government.”
Worth repeating. Over and over.
This is a direct result of government regulation. If you think this is only going to affect B of A you are mistaken. Things like limits on overdraft fees, etc. etc. are going to cost all consumers money. Banking services cost money and the more government regulation they have to deal with the more these services are going to cost you, simple as that.
Probably illegal immigrants can't get credit cards. But a debit card is given to anyone who walks into a bank with a few dollars in hand.
I closed my account with them a long time, but thanks for calling me irresponsible.
We are BofA customers...husband, wife, two daughters (each with an account). So that $5 fee comes to $20 for our family. We’ll switch banks very soon.
There is a possibility here in a new, independent company creating a much higher security, 100% backed debit card. It would have a very different business model than the current credit and debit card system, and would instead be much like the alternative currency called ‘scrip’.
Under a State license, it could effectively become a State currency, but not restricted to the constitutional limit on States that they may only issue currency backed by specie, gold and silver, because it is run by a private company. Instead, it would be licensed, regulated, insured and audited by the State.
And overhead for the system could be very small, just telephone lines and computers.
How it works is by issuing what looks like a photo ID to users, when they sign up. On the back of their card is a heavily encrypted, but public domain bar code, called Data Matrix.
Data Matrix can be “read” by a common cell phone camera.
This means that when two people sign up for the system, and want to buy and sell something, either one can use their cell phone to make the sale.
They make a call to the debit card company. Then the owner of the cell phone photographs his ID card Data Matrix, and his picture is displayed on the screen, so that the other person can see that they are indeed the card holder. Then the other person takes a picture of their ID card Data Matrix, so their identity is affirmed as well.
Then the seller enters a price, including tax, that is the cost of the item being sold, along with their PIN number. Then the buyer enters the same number, along with their own PIN number. And the money is exchanged electronically from one account to the other.
This could be done either with US dollars, or a State currency, which is not legal tender. In the latter case, prices could be fixed ahead of time, so that it would be a stable currency, even if the dollar became unstable.
With each transaction, both sales tax and a small transaction fee would be deducted.
The advantages of doing this are first, the stabilization of a State’s economy if there was a major economic catastrophe that made the dollar unstable. This would keep both local governments and the marketplace operating. And since it would be 100% backed with the debit card holdings, no matter what happened, users would be guaranteed to get back every penny they had put into the system.
Finally, this is outside of typical federal financial regulation, and under the complete control of the State.
When I get home I’m joining the local credit union. Moving everything over to them. I found out too that CU’s don’t charge each other for using their ATM’s - same with savings and loan’s - at least that’s what I heard. They reciprocate with each other.
Barney prefers the back door.
I may be one of the very few people in the USA who has never had a problem with BoA, and I’ve always been happy with their service, and their ATM network is very convenient for me.
I will not blame BoA for charging the fees. It’s a business decision forced upon them by congress yet again interfering in the private sector (limiting vendor “swipe” fees), and rewarding bad behavior (limiting fees the banks can charge) while punishing good behavior (forcing the banks to get rid of “perks” for their good customers, like free checking and free debit cards), all in the name of “fairness.”
But if they do start charging $5 a month for the use of their debit card I won’t pay it. As long as they don’t charge for checking or ATM use, I’ll keep my BoA account. If they charge me for either, I’ll make a business decision of my own and change to another bank.
New meaning as follows:
(B)unch (O)f (A)zzholes
Being a fan of Dave Ramsey, I've come to use them rather than my checkbook or credit card. The newer cards, like my BoA Visa debit card is usable wherever Visa is accepted (i.e. nearly everywhere), it carries all the fraud protection of Visa credit cards, and it's no different than using my check book, just more convenient. It also gives me access to a huge network of ATMs.
I don’t understand all the fuss over a $60 annual fee.
There are people paying $300 a month for doggy day-care and $5 for one cup of coffee.
Consider that we used to pay 10c each for checks. Consider that you have your paychecks and other deposits automatically deposited to a facility - where someone is responsible to oversee/authenticate your withdrawals and payments.
How much would you pay a friend to hold your money in their safe? I don’t mind paying $5 a month for the convenience of swiping a card and getting cash from an ATM at any time of the day or night.
Dodd-Frank mandatorily lowered the profit the banks can make on merchant fees. To stay in business, the banks have had to hike fees elsewhere or else they have to fire a whole lot of employees.
Bank of America is not the only one raising fees. Many banks are having to do so.
Problem is trying to find a bank now that isn’t into how many fee’s they can put on you. My understanding is that CU’s don’t fall under that gov’t mandate because of their size(?)
I agree. Absolutely the worst bank ever to deal with concerning mortgage. I was so happy to pay my mortgage off in 2008 and never to deal with these blood-suckers again.
Myself, I use a Paypal card for pretty much all transactions. Not only is there a firewall between my money and merchants, I also get back 1% of my transactions each month. And if I switch banks, it's a quick change on the Paypal website for where funding comes from, and no changes for everywhere else.
Won't surprise me if Paypal starts up a fee for this service, and I'd certainly consider paying it as well. I like having my money separated from the card, and there's two layers of protection if my card information gets stolen, plus a further protection of an automatic limit on the card's use at any moment.
While Congress does have a role in screwups. Nothing is making BoA or any bank do this but greed. They make plenty of money. The reason for these fees is simply another way to stick it to the little guy.
I’m sure the bonuses of senior management will come from these new fees.