B of A will charge customers to use debit cards
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's your money, but if you want to use it, you'll have to give some of it to the bank.
Bank of America is the first of the big national chains to charge you to use your debit card to buy things...and it will probably not be the last.
The bank is planning to charge debit card users five dollars a month as of early next year.
The bank says because new Federal rules limit how much it can collect from merchants to process debit card purchases, it's looking to you to make up the difference.
Bank of America customer Richard Vetrano says, "It just makes me angry. I'm on a fixed income; Social Security, you know. It seems like they're nickel and dimeing us all the time on everything."
This will be a whole lot of nickels and dimes. Five dollars for any month when you buy with your debit card one time in a month, or a hundred. The fee applies to debit card purchases, not ATM withdrawals.
Bank of America's the first national chain to announce it'll be charging that fee. Wells Fargo and Chase have been testing three dollar debit card fees in certain cities but have not said if they'll charge them system wide.
The fee's designed to make up for income some new Federal rules take away. Banks used to be able to charge merchants 44 cents for every swipe of a debit card. Soon it'll be 14 cents. B of A's customer base is so huge that change will cost it more than two billion dollars.
Bank of America's fee may make customers escape to banks like the Bank of Tucson. CEO Michael Hannley says he won't hit customers with debit card fees and thinks most local banks won't either.
"If we charged everybody five dollars or three dollars, it's just gonna aggravate them and we don't make that much money..."
Hannley says local banks don't make much in fees because you need a big bank's big customer base for the fees to add up to money big enough to be worth making customers angry.
Local banks depend on customers depositing money and taking out loans because they're happy with the personal service.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Hannley: "I hear people say, 'yeah but you know, I want national coverage, I want national access to ATMs.' What are you giving up if you say, 'I'm staying local'?
Hannley: "For the average consumer, or most consumers, you give up nothing except, you come in and get treated by a person, all the time."
And if you want to see how angry people are at B of A, try the bank's website. It's been jammed most of Friday.
B of A says it's website is not under attack but it's offered no other explanation for the jam-up. It may just be jammed by customers who want to learn about the fee, or tell the bank what they think.