New York — Bank of America plans to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee for using their debit card to make purchases. The fee will be rolled out starting early next year.
A number of banks have already either rolled out or are testing such fees. But Bank of America’s announcement carries added weight because it is the largest U.S. bank by deposits.
Anne Pace, a Bank of America Corp. spokeswoman, said Thursday that customers will only be charged the fee if they use their debit cards for purchases in any given month. Customers won’t be charged if they only use their cards at an ATM.
The fee will apply to basic accounts and will be in addition to any existing monthly service fees. For example, one of the bank’s basic accounts charges a $12 monthly fee unless customers meet certain conditions, such as maintaining a minimum average balance of $1,500.
A fee for using debit cards is still a novel concept for many consumers and was unheard of before this year. But there are signs it may soon become an industry norm.
SunTrust, a regional bank based in Atlanta, began charging a $5 debit card fee on its basic checking accounts this summer. Regions Financial, which is based in Birmingham, Ala., plans to start charging a $4 fee next month.
Chase and Wells Fargo are also testing $3 monthly debit card fees in select markets. Neither bank has said when it will make a final decision on whether to roll out the fee more broadly.
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