Florida’s third largest bank, SunTrust, recently announced plans to impose a $5 fee upon all its “everyday checking” customers if they use their debit card at the register to make their purchases. That’s an extra $60 a year people will pay for the privilege of using their own money. The bank has also indicated that next year the fee will be expanded to student checking accounts, which are currently offered free of charge.
Hugh Suhr, a spokesperson for SunTrust, pointed out that the company’s new debit card fee is not per card but per checking account. Should a single checking account have several debit cards attached to it, only one $5 monthly fee would post to the account if any or all of those cards were used for a PIN point-of-sale, signature, or recurring transaction.
“If a client chooses not to use the card for purchases during a particular month, there is no monthly usage fee,” Suhr said to the Herald Tribune’s website. “There is no fee for using the card at a SunTrust ATM.”
Current SunTrust customers are being made aware of the forthcoming changes. Many of the bank’s other account options, for example, accounts that have higher minimum balance requirements, will not be subjected to the new debit-card fee.
“We are engaging our clients and educating them on the features of the new accounts so they have the opportunity to select the one that best suits their personal financial needs,” the Herald Tribune reports Suhr as saying.
SunTrust has also discontinued the reward point programs that were tied into debit cards as a perk for customers who used them frequently.
The latest in a growing list of lenders affecting such debit card usage fees, but Sun Trust is the first to levy a fee for a standard checking account.
These fees have been imposed by the banks in an attempt to recoup some of the revenue that was lost under new federal regulations that capped the “swipe fees” they could collect from merchants per debit card transaction.
Wells Fargo will test a $3 monthly fee for its debit cards in a handful of select states starting this October.