To borrow Yogi Berra's words, it's déjà vu all over again: Bank
of America has backed away from plans to roll out new fees on its
checking accounts this year, according to a
report from the Wall Street Journal
Bank of America's proposed checking account fees would have
reportedly affected 10 million consumers, or about 20 percent of
the company's customers. But despite testing new fees in select
markets throughout the year, the bank appears to have delayed plans
to implement them out on a national scale.
Bank of America experienced severe backlash in 2011 when it
proposed charging consumers a $5
monthly fee for using their debit cards
. This fee would have been in addition to regular ATM and purchase
transaction fees. The move was met with stiff resistance, and the
fee plan was scrapped soon after it was announced.
Mixed signals on Bank of America fees
In an interview with CNBC, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan
disputed that the bank had made any new decisions regarding
"That's not true. We're making decisions all day long," Moynihan
told Becky Quick on CNBC's Squawk Box when asked about the Wall
Street Journal report.
Moynihan went on to discuss the importance of "relationship
banking" with its retail customers and how consumers who have a
broader relationship with Bank of America will be able to avoid
banking fees. The comments seemed to support the idea that these
checking account fees are intended to drive consumers to use
additional bank services, such as direct deposit or mortgage
The death of free checking?
Regardless of whether the Bank of America new fees come to be,
free checking is becoming harder to find today. Recent federal
regulations have cut into bank revenues from swipe fees and
overdraft charges. Many banks have since felt the need to increase
fees on basic accounts that otherwise make little or no money for
According to the latest MoneyRates.com
Bank Fees Survey
, only about one-third of checking accounts are free of monthly
maintenance charges. However, in some cases, the fees on other
accounts can be waived if consumers maintain certain minimum
balances or use other bank services, such as paperless statements
or direct deposit.
As options for free checking dwindle, more banking customers may
seek out alternatives to big banks.
and credit unions often provide free checking options, and as a
bonus, savings account interest rates and CD rates may also be
higher at these institutions.
It remains to be seen whether consumer resistance will
eventually stem the tide of new service charges at major banks. So
for now, big bank customers may want to keep a close eye on their