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B of A may revise account fees

Or maybe not. A published report says Bank of America is on the verge of revamping its rules and fees for checking accounts. B of A says that's not so.

By Karen Datko Mar 1, 2012 9:23PM

You almost have to feel bad for Bank of America. (Well, not quite.) Since that $5-a-month debit card fee debacle, whenever "fee" and "B of A" are mentioned in the same sentence, people's hackles stand up.


That happened today after The Wall Street Journal reported that Bank of America is nearly ready to go nationwide with checking account fees it's been testing in three states. (B of A later in the day issued a statement denying the report.) 


"It looks like Bank of America is up to its old tricks," Norma Garcia, manager of Consumers Union's financial services team, said in a news release. "Consumers have made it loud and clear that they are fed up with new bank fees."


More specifically, here's what the WSJ said:  

Bank of America pilot programs in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts now are experimenting with charging $6 to $9 a month for an "Essentials" account. Other account options being tested in those states carry monthly charges of $9, $12, $15 and $25 but give customers opportunities to avoid the payments by maintaining minimum balances, using a credit card or taking a mortgage with Bank of America, according to a memo distributed to employees.

The story added, "Bank of America currently charges a wide range of monthly fees for checking accounts, unless customers meet certain requirements, but the new plans being tested could change the amounts being charged and the triggers for fees."


It seems a new fee structure would be intended to encourage bank customers to use more bank services -- credit cards, loans, etc. -- that are profitable to the bank, or make customers actually pay for the checking account services they use or leave. 


Is B of A just months away from rolling this out? The Associated Press reported later in the day:  

Bank of America says it is "not planning to increase checking account fees with our existing customers." Of the tests in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts, it says it is "continuing to learn" from them and has made no decisions.

You can read the full denial here. (You can read about the test fees at this B of A Web page. Only the fee for the Essentials account seems unavoidable, unless you simply choose not to get that type of account. The B of A accounts available in other states are described on this page.)

It will be interesting to see how Bank of America proceeds. That hugely unpopular debit card fee proposal ended up costing the bank, even though B of A killed the fee before launching it. Jason Notte at The Street reported:

Bank of America alone saw certificates of deposit and investment retirement accounts fall to $82 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 from $96 billion in the quarter a year earlier. In the last three months of 2011, after the $5 debit card fee was proposed, closed accounts at Bank of America rose 20%.

Notte also wrote:

Even when companies try to introduce fees with more subtlety, (John) Breyault (vice president of the National Consumers League) says they're going to have to start taking potential consumer outrage into consideration before boosting the bottom line.

I suspect that consumers are OK with fees they can relate directly to a service they value. When my bank did away with free checking awhile ago, it offered me several possible ways to avoid a monthly fee. I took them up on it and still happily bank there.


Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, says it costs his bank $300 a year on average to maintain a bank account, AP reported. Someone has to pay for that.


Halah Touryalai emphasized this point at Forbes:

So before there's another round of outrage over bank fees it's important to understand why these fees are being imposed on consumers. ... (I)t hasn't been the best environment for banks in terms of revenue; interest rates are down meaning there's less money to be made off deposits and loans, and there are more regulations out there that are affecting the way banks make money.

If you don't like your Bank of America account if it happens to change, you can always switch banks, but be careful. AP also reports:

Since November, Wells Fargo has charged $15 a month for some checking accounts unless customers have three accounts with the bank, maintain a minimum balance of $7,500 or have a Wells Fargo mortgage.
Some Citibank customers are being charged $20 a month unless they keep $15,000 in their accounts, up from $6,000 before December. They're also being dinged with a $2 fee for using non-Citi ATMs if their balance falls below the minimum.

Or you can look for banks and credit unions that offer truly free checking accounts. They still exist.


More on MSN Money:

Mar 1, 2012 10:33PM
Is Bank of America still in business? I thought they went belly up. Go to a credit Union. Screw um.
Mar 2, 2012 2:33AM
We have banked with BofA for 20 years, the first time they charge us  with the bull chit fees, we will close our account!!!!!!!!!
Mar 2, 2012 3:04AM
I can't believe that BofA still has customers that haven't walked.  I will never do business with these greedy bastards and I'm surprised anyone in their right mind would either.
Mar 2, 2012 7:32AM

If any of those big bank CEO's had to live like average americans do, they would be found hanging from the trees in their affluent backyards.



Mar 2, 2012 5:19AM
I said it once and I'll say it again,, another reason to hate BofA.
Mar 2, 2012 10:01AM
How about this????
 Instead of gouging the customer!!!!!
Trim your own dead wood and trim Execs
 pay and bonuses????
 If they want to be profitable??? They need to
clean up there own back yard, and then  raise fee's
 Thank goodness for local and regional banks!!!

Mar 2, 2012 12:25AM
Are u kidding me? maybe the wads that collect money from investing our hard earned money should take a friggin cut this time BofA?You are a fascist bank and i would never bank with u. Your first and main priority has always been to screw your customers.Less your republican, i mean rich.suck it up:)
Mar 2, 2012 8:57AM

"Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, says it costs his bank $300 a year on average to maintain a bank account, AP reported. Someone has to pay for that."


How about you pay for that?  You know with the interest you make from personal loans, mortgages and credit cards.  Or is that too much of a hit for your multimillion dollar bonus to take?



Mar 2, 2012 9:32AM

Here's the problem!  First off...banks are already making money with our money, they loan our money out, they collect interest, they already collect various fees and they make money off the market.


If you've done any shopping around for mortgage rates you will see that Bof A is charging hirer rates then it's competition.


Their credit card rates are somewhat higer too!


banks are stabbing the hand that feeds them and it's ridiculous! 


They are making hand over fist money and giving their employee's huge saleries and bonuses, way above what normal people make yet it's not enough!  They want more!





Bank Of America Reports Third Quarter 2011 Net Income of 6.2 billion


Bank of America Reports Fourth-Quarter 2011 Net Income of $2.0 Billion, or $0.15 Per Diluted Share; Full-Year 2011 Net Income of $1.4 Billion, or $0.01 Per Diluted Share


Bank Of America Earnings Report: Bank Sees $6.2 Billion Profit



Mar 2, 2012 8:48AM
Only wish I had millions to withdraw and close account. Instead will just close account.
Mar 2, 2012 9:50AM
It's funny how the guy from Forbe's talks about being hit by receiving low interest rates on loans, yet fails to disclose that they are also paying out even lower interest rates on CDs and savings accounts.
Mar 2, 2012 7:46AM
It is simple I bank with a local bank, free checking with no requirements. If no banks in your area have that look to Credit Unions they are generally local and have excellent service.
Mar 2, 2012 9:34AM



Bank Of America Reports Third Quarter 2011 Net Income of 6.2 billion


Bank of America Reports Fourth-Quarter 2011 Net Income of $2.0 Billion, or $0.15 Per Diluted Share; Full-Year 2011 Net Income of $1.4 Billion, or $0.01 Per Diluted Share


Bank Of America Earnings Report: Bank Sees $6.2 Billion Profit



Mar 2, 2012 11:12AM
I believe that the Bank of America are crooks, they get bailed out by our government and our taxes and still they rob people of their houses. If they charge fees for anything dealing with check and debit cards  I hope and pray people will stand up and say "enough is enough". I fell that Bank of America have only one thing one their mind and that is how much money can the rob from the american people. I changed my account to another bank that respects their comsumers It would have to be a cold day in hell for me to say anything good about them and we as American people just let them take it to us. If we would all take our money from the bank to another band wonder what they would do next.
Mar 2, 2012 11:03AM




Mar 2, 2012 11:06AM
Why don't more people join credit unions and make B of A irrelevant?  I would never do business with a bank.
Mar 2, 2012 10:52AM
i have been a b of a cust for 8 years. if they start the fee shuffle game i will leave them too. guess its time to start looking just in case. wonder what other fees they will try to attach to my checking account?
Mar 2, 2012 3:41PM
Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, says it costs his bank $300 a year on average to maintain a bank account, AP reported. Someone has to pay for that.

Someone DOES pay for that. Do you think our money just sits in their vaults all day long???


I have to pay (currently) 3-4% per year for the priveledge of a bank giving me their money. However, in the reverse, the bank only has to pay me (currently) 0.25% per year for the priveledge of me giving them my money.


Sounds like someone is getting paid, and paid well.

Mar 5, 2012 1:24PM
I've been with BofA since 1994 (the good west coast BofA before they were bought by evil NationsBank).  Lets see if they can keep me until 2014.  Odds aren't so good on that one.
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