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Friday, September 30, 2011

Bank Of America Announces Debit Card Fees

Two customers use an ATM at a Bank of America bank in California. (AP)

Two customers use an ATM at a Bank of America bank in California. (AP)

Bank of America announced Thursday that starting next year, it will begin charging a $5 monthly fee for customers who use their debit cards. And customers are already taking out their frustration.

On Twitter, Peter Skeritt wrote “Welp. looks like I’ll be closing my Bank of America account before the year is out. Fees mean more revenue only if you have customers.” Bank of America spokeswoman Anne Pace defended BOA’s move, saying that “the economics of offering a debit card have changed.”

The announcement comes days before a provision of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill called the “Durbin Amendment” takes effect. That rule limits the fees that banks can charge merchants every time a customer uses a debit card for a purchase. And The New York Times reports that Javelin Strategy and Research estimates the new rule would reduce revenue for banks by about $6.6 billion a year.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, for whom the rule was named, criticized the new fees, as the Hill reports:

“It seems that old habits die hard for Bank of America,” Durbin said in response to the new policy. “After years of raking in excess profits off an unfair and anti-competitive interchange system, Bank of America is trying to find new ways to pad their profits by sticking it to its customers.

Bank of America says that customers will be notified in writing 30 days in advance if a person’s account is affected.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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