Thursday, September 29, 2011

Time to Stop Using Your Debit Card Part II

In August, I wrote about the prospect of banks charging fees on debit cards that are used in non-ATM transactions (see Time to Stop Using Debit Cards). With several banks testing $3 fees, I predicted there was no way it would end at that. Bank of America has now jumped on the bandwagon announcing a $5 monthly fee beginning next year for all bank customers that use their debit card for purchases. There will be no fee for ATM use. Of course, this is in addition to any other fees already charged on the bank account. The discussion now suggests that debit card use fees are the industry "norm." Wow! Even before the banks implement these new fees, the media is reporting them as the new standard.

Way back when banks first rolled out debit cards as a replacement for the traditional ATM card, I asked to send mine back. My worry, of course, was that there would surely be fees associated with the cards. And, would I know the fee was coming before the bank charged me. Well, it has taken some time for the fees to hit directly on user accounts (rather than indirectly through interchange fees), but welcome to the new world.

NPR ran a piece this week about the ability of small banks to lure new customers as these new fees hit. See Smaller Banks Use Free Checking. My suspicion is that many bank customers will not even notice the new fees . . . at first, but will be unhappy when they find out. Others who keep lower balances at some times during the month will not notice the fees until they've overdrawn their account. Then the bank may collect a $35 additional fee if the customer is enrolled in the bank's debit card overdraft protection program.

As for me, when these fees hit, I will not use my debit card for over the counter purchases. I can write a check at the grocery store or use a credit card for gas. After all, do you really think it will stop at $5 a month?


1 comment:

Anti Money Laundering said...

Disappointingly, the penetration of debit cards has been shallow. One disincentive is the business cost to merchants.