It was announced this week that Bank of America will start charging $5 fees for debit card users (except for the really rich). Never one to be upstaged, Citibank has sent out notices informing customers that it will begin charging for checking accounts unless they keep significantly more on deposit. And that includes a $15 a month debit fee for certain accounts with balances less than $6,000.
Citibank's retail banking chief, Stephen Troutner, told the LA Times that customers across the country are receiving notification of the changes. The Easy Checking Package, which had always been free, will be replaced in December with a new account package with a $15 monthly fee or $6,000 deposit minimum. The mid-tier package, called the Citi Account, will carry a $20 monthly fee starting in November unless the customer keeps a $15,000 combined balance in checking, savings and loans, up from $6,000.
Troutner added that a basic account option can help customers avoid some of the charges—if you maintain a combined $1,500 balance in checking and savings accounts—but higher fees are now a reality. He said that Citibank was doing what it could to avoid enacting the $5 debit fee: "We conducted extensive surveys with our customers, and no one wanted to pay to use debit cards." To us, it just seems like the banks are charging us fees for being broke.