After four weeks of continual outrage expressed by consumers over the Bank of America`s plans to begin charging customers $5 a month to use their debit cards to make purchases come January, B of A recently announced they were dropping the fee.
“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” said David Darnell, co-chief operating officer, as reported by USA Today. “Our customers` voices are most important to us. As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”
Bank of America was, in fact, the last bank to give up the debit card fee initiative, following Regions Bank and Sun Trust who both announced their abandonment of the idea on Monday. Wells Fargo, who was set to test out a similar fee in five states, is no longer going ahead with the pilot program. Additionally, USA Today revealed that JPMorgan Chase, who is currently testing out a debit card usage fee in two states, decided not to implement it nationally.
The Bank of America fee inspired many angry consumers to close their accounts and switch to a regional bank or credit union. One woman in Washington D.C. began an online petition against the debit cards fees that solicited signatures from over 300,000 frustrated consumers. Activists even declared November 5 as “Bank Transfer Day” and were encouraging B of A customers to close their accounts and take their money elsewhere.
“For a lot of consumers, this was the last straw,” said Jean Ann Fox, director of financial services for the Washington- based Consumer Federation of America, according to Bloomberg.com. “Banks have been making a lot of changes to accounts, adding fees and raising the minimum balance needed, and consumers were clear that they objected to one more fee.”
While the repeal of the new debit cards fees is indeed a victory for consumers, experts caution that banks will likely find other, less transparent ways to levy fees against their customers, in the effort to make up for the revenue loss by the recent debit card swipe fee caps. Many banks have already increased their fees pertaining to checking accounts and increased monthly balance minimums.
“There are going to be a lot of fits and starts along the way. Some of [the new charges] are going to work and some aren`t,” said Michael Poulos of consulting firm Oliver Wyman to The Wall Street Journal.