Bank of America Reconsidering $5 Debit Card Fee

Bank of America said on Friday it is considering backing off of its plan to begin charging its customers a $5 per month fee for using debit cards next year after a barrage of outrage and customers closing their accounts. In September, the bank announced the new charge, which it said would help it recoup some of the revenue lost from new regulations limiting how much they can charge retailers for handling transactions.

The fee sparked considerable controversy, and some former BoA account holders have even walked into their local branch and cut up their debit cards as tellers retrieved the balance of their accounts. The slogan “I bailed out the banks and all I got was a $5 debit card fee ,” has been a common site at the recent string of Occupy protests around the country, and smaller banks and credit unions have begun advertising the fact that they don’t charge fees, in order to maximize the exodus from America’s big banks that is already underway.

According to Bank of America’s statement, it is considering introducing new ways its customers will be able to avoid the $5 fee, such as having their paychecks direct deposited, using Bank of America credit cards, or by maintaining a minimum balance. But as the bank tries to alter its fee to make it acceptable to its customers, JP Morgan Chase announced Friday that it will not impose a similar fee. And both Wells Fargo and Citigroup, who each implemented similar fees in small test areas, announced this week they will scrap the fee plan altogether when those test runs are completed.

The moves by all these banks to impose a new fee on debit card has been a response to a provision in the Durbin Amendment, a provision added to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Durbin went into effect in July, reducing the fee that banks can charge merchants when handling their transactions. The legislation reduced the maximum fee allowed from 44 cents to 21 cents.