A look at recent fee changes at major banks

Posted Oct. 02, 2011, at 11:25 a.m.

Bank of America says it will start charging a $5 monthly fee early next year if customers use their debit cards to make purchases. It’s just the latest unwelcome change for bank customers in the past year or so.

Here are some other recent changes at the four largest banks:

Bank of America

• A new $5 fee to replace debit cards took effect in September; a rush overnight order costs $20. Previously, both services were free.

• The bank is currently testing a menu of checking accounts with a variety of fee options in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts. The fees range from $6 to $25 a month depending on the level of service.

• In May, the monthly fee on the basic MyAccess account rose to $12, from the previous $8.95. Customers can still avoid the fee by setting up direct deposit of at least $250 or maintaining a balance of $1,500.

• The bank introduced its eBanking account in August of last year. Customers are offered free checking if they opt to receive statements online and do their banking online and at ATMs. If they want to make a deposit or withdrawal through a teller at a branch, they’re charged a one-time fee of $8.95 for that month.

Chase

• The bank ended its debit rewards program in July. A month later, the bank introduced a new program that offers customers varying cash-back offers when shopping through its online mall. Some customers also are emailed limited-time, in-store cash-back offers.

• In February, Chase introduced a new basic checking account with a $12 monthly fee, up from the previous $6. The fee is waived for customers who make direct deposits that total $500 a month or maintain a minimum balance of $1,500. Previously, the fee on the basic checking account was waived when customers made at least five debit card purchases a month.

• The bank earlier this year tested $4 and $5 ATM fees for noncustomers in Texas and Illinois, respectively. The test was ended in May.

• The bank is testing a $3 monthly fee for debit cards in northern Wisconsin.

• Chase is also testing a $15 monthly fee for basic checking accounts in Georgia.

Citibank

• Starting in December, Citi said it will raise the fee on its basic checking account to $10 a month, up from $8. Customers will have to maintain a balance of at least $1,500 or sign up for direct deposit and online bill pay to avoid the fee. Currently, the monthly fee is waived if customers make at least five transactions of any type each month.

• Citi also said it will no longer give rewards points for debit card purchases. But the bank said customers will be able to earn more points each month by opening a Citi savings account or setting up a feature that automatically transfers money into a savings account.

• Following the Bank of America announcement this week, Citi noted that it has no plans to introduce a debit card fee.

Wells Fargo

• The bank is ending its debit rewards program in October.

• The bank also plans to test a $3 monthly debit card fee starting Oct. 14. The fee will be applied to checking accounts opened in Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. The fee would be in addition to the fees ranging from $5 to $30 that Wells Fargo already charges. Those monthly fees can be waived if customers meet certain conditions.

• The bank stopped offering free checking accounts with no strings attached in July of last year.

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