Bank of America is reaping in some heavy criticism since the announcement of their $5.00 a month debit card fee. Whether you use your debit card once a month or thirty times a month, the bank wants to charge you. Following suit, but without as much public fanfare are Citi Bank, Wells Fargo, and Chase. If those institutions aren't charging you to use a debit card, read the notices in the mail which explain new checking account fees unless you maintain a certain balance and how you need to have a mortgage with a particular institution to be relieved of certain fees or other special contingencies needed to be spared more monthly fees.
Banks blame fees on Congress and tell us they are being forced to do this, but consumers aren't convinced. For instance, how is customer service with all of these new fees going to improve? Will lines be shorter? Will someone answer my mortgage questions quicker? How is charging one for using a debit card going to make this a better experience? That debit card merely reflects my money; I'm not using the bank's money. Why do I have to pay a bank to access my own money?
In this economy banks will be hard pressed convincing consumers they aren't making enough money - after all didn't Congress just bail out the banks for billions of dollars? And doesn't Bank of America already have a terrible reputation of questionable mortgage foreclosures?
Extra fees just make everyone unhappy. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Imagine a student using a debit card making minimum wage; that fee is nearly 70 percent of one hour of work. And where even the most cynical consumers accept the consequences of outrageous interest rates when using the bank's money for the purpose of dragging out credit card purchases for years, how can any bank defend a fee to "swipe" a debit card and the technology already in use to make sure your account is properly charged?
So will Bank of America relent and reverse the debit card charges or will consumers revert back to the "good old 90′s" when we actually carried cash with us to buy coffee or a new pair of shoes? For the most part my son and his friends have been raised using debit cards, and probably couldn't tell me whose face is on a $50.00 bill.
Today in my local newspaper, smaller banks and credit unions are already advertising no fee debit cards and free checking. It might very well be a good time to make a change.
photo credit: JMazzolaa