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Banks launch new, subtler fees

November 30, 2011

| Money Rates Columnist

True, Chase dumped its plan to charge a $10-a-month checking account fee and Bank of America dropped its plans for a $5-a-month fee on debit cards. But if this seems like a trend toward cheaper banking, think again.

Instead of sticking with its much-publicized new charges, banks are resorting to quietly bumping up fees customers are already paying, hoping they won't notice or, if they do, that they won't get mad enough to move to another bank.

Here are a few examples:

  • Bank of America plans to roll out a new selection of checking accounts next year that carry fees ranging from $6 to $25.
  • Citibank has boosted its basic checking account fee from $8 a month to $10.
  • TD bank is now charging $15 for incoming wire transfers.

The crush of fees is a result of the banks looking to recover the revenues they stand to lose from caps on overdraft fees and debit card swipe fees, which is costing them an estimated $12 billion a year, according to the New York Times. That translates into $15 to $20 a month from each depositor.

In addition, many banks are also actively cutting costs, closing branches and reducing interest paid on CDs and savings accounts. While customers may be able to avoid some of the charges by increasing their number of accounts or depositing more money with their bank, it seems customers may have to be extra vigilante in the coming months to avoid new fees.

The flurry of new, subtler charges has prompted federal lawmakers to push for streamlined disclosure forms for bank patrons opening new checking accounts. The typical disclosure form now is more than 110 pages, and lawmakers would like to see them condensed to something akin to a food packaging label. The hope is that this would make it easier for consumers to shop around and compare.

Your responses to ‘Banks launch new, subtler fees’

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5 January 2012 at 4:22 pm

I think banks have the right to make a profit. If the banks customers don't like it then they can move to another bank. This is what made America great.


4 January 2012 at 6:24 pm

Chase has sneakily been charging me an interest rate for a cash advance that I never used the card for.I am turning it over to Obama's day old new bank examiner! I don't want my money back,I want them fined enough by the feds so that they actually feel it!

Lew Miller

4 January 2012 at 5:29 pm

Bank of America backed down from the $5-a-month debit-card fee, but quietly instituted a $5-a-month savings-account fee, if the daily balance drops below $300. I raised cain, and the $5 charge was reversed. I then promptly closed the account. I was particularly incensed because I had received no advance warning of the change, after having been a BoA customer for 10 years. A few days later, I received an envelope containing a couple booklets that describe BoA's new fee structure. I am now planning to open a credit-union account, and close my BoA accounts.


4 January 2012 at 4:38 pm

Let the banks go to hell people, don't feed their greed. Go credit union,

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