If you bank with Bank of America, the privilege of using your debit card will cost you $5 a month starting next year. The new fee has something to do with a change in banking regulations; banks had previously charged retailers an average 44 cents when a customer pays with a debit card. But the Dodd-Frank Act's Durbin amendment, which takes effect Saturday, caps fees at 21 cents per transaction. Banks will lose billions and fees, and these poor bankers need to recover that lost revenue somehow—so they're turning to you, reliable consumer, for help.
Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo each have been testing $3-a-month fees for debit cards in some markets, WNYC reports, and now BofA, which just terminated 30,000 employees, is kicking it up a notch. "The economics of offering a debit card have changed," Bank of America spokeswoman Anne Pace tells Reuters. She explains that customers "expect certain features for their accounts, like overdraft and fraud protection, and the fee will offset some of those costs."
Expect to see added fees like this popping up at other banks, now that the biggest bank in the nation has made the jump. But there's a silver lining to all of this, at least with Bank of America: the debit card fee will be waived for the bank's premium or platinum privileges accounts tied to its Merrill Lynch brokerage. Nice to see those guys catching a break for once.