Debit Card Fees Dropped by Big Banks

by · 5 comments

Bank of America announced today they will abandon plans to charge a $5 monthly fee for debit card use. This comes on the heels of a similar announcement from other big banks including Wells Fargo, Chase, SunTrust, and others. Why are they backing off? Because you said no.

Why all the fuss?

Last month the Fed (Federal Reserve) – mandated via the Dodd-Frank Act – capped fees on debit card purchases to about half the previous level. This change caused many big banks to scramble for an answer to the nearly $8 billion loss in annual revenue for big banks (data per Bloomberg Government).

Their answer? Pass the loss down to the consumer in the way of monthly debit card fees.

Your response? No way! And it worked.

Now card issuers must seek other ways to replace revenue and trim costs.

How will they make up the lost revenue?

Great question… I dare you to guess.

If you lose a job and have less revenue, what do you do? There are two possible solutions: 1) earn more revenue, 2) cut costs. If big banks find different ways to pass costs down to you they better do it in a way you won’t notice – since you already rejected their last attempt and you’re on guard – OR, they’ll have to cut costs.

They could cut costs by eliminating branch offices in favor of an increased focus on online banking (like that of Capital One 360, Ally Bank, PerkStreet, or USAA). Things are moving in that direction anyway, and big banks refusing change risk a dinosaur’s fate.

They’ll most likely opt instead for a revenue stream you’re less likely to notice… which brings me to my last question.

Will you switch anyway?

Sure, the big banks did their best Mitt Romney and flip-flopped their way out of debit fee wrath… but did they lose your confidence in the process? They never had mine.

November 5th is still Bank Transfer Day – a national movement to switch from big banks to online and/or local banks and credit unions. Remember, remember the 5th of November!

I made a few recommendations, based on my experience and research, that you can take or leave. Whatever you do, just make sure you’re not staying with a bank you hate because you’re too lazy to make the switch.


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1 Kevin @ Debteye

I’ll probably just stick to my bank, I’ve been with them for years and so far can’t really complain about anything.

2 Matt Jabs

What bank? I have accounts with ING, Ally, and our local credit union. I’m also probably going to open a PerkStreet account here shortly.

3 Kevin @ Debteye

Currently with Chase, I’ve been hearing a lot about PerkStreet, didn’t have a chance to check them out yet though.

4 Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey

I am glad that BofA changed their mind over the debit card fee. It could be the result of the qualms of many account holders saying that the charge is not fair. However, it did not make me change my mind to put my money back on them. I have transferred my money to another bank and to a credit union and that’s it.

5 Matt Jabs

Thanks for the feedback Cherleen, I’m thinking your sentiments are shared by many… but would like to see more readers pitch in w/their $0.02.

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