March 1st, 2012

Bank of America Tests New Banking Fees

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bank of america fees

As predicted after the banking fee debacle of 2011, big banks are searching for more ways to generate revenue from their customers.

The first to step forward with new fees is repeat-offender Bank of America, the second-largest bank by assets with more than 55 million U.S. households as customers. Last year, the bank’s proposed $5 debit card fee led to a media backlash and, eventually, a revocation of the proposed fee.

Now, the big bank is back at it.

What are the fees?

Bank of America is testing a couple of fee structures, reports The Wall Street Journal. First, the “Essentials” checking account may come with a $6 to $9 flat fee with no qualifying actions to get you out of paying the monthly fee. Second, checking accounts with monthly charges of $9, $12, $15 and $25. The difference is that these accounts will come with ways to avoid the fee, such as maintaining minimum balances, signing up for online banking, using a Bank of America credit card, or getting a mortgage with the bank. These fee programs are currently being piloted in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts.

Why are banks testing new fees?

These pilot fee programs are likely the first in a trend of new banking fees. U.S. banks collected $8.67 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 on service fees charged to savings and checking accounts. That may sound like a lot, but that number is 16 percent lower than it was two years ago. As the Credit Karma Blog has previously suggested, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act is forcing banks to scramble to find new ways to make up the significant revenue lost from the Act’s regulations.

Bank of America is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Other banks—big ones that are most affected by the new regulations—will likely follow suit. After all, around the same time that Bank of America announced its now-annulled $5 debit card fee, Chase proposed a $3 fee of its own (also now a thing of the past).

What can you do?

If you don’t want to wait for new fees to arise, there are still currently some free checking account options. Watch this video for a few suggestions of where you can go to bank for free:



Have a Karmic Day!

Bethy Hardeman, Social Media Maven

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. Most if not all banks (yes even the big ones) have a checking account that is “free” as long as the account has either a direct deposit or monthly activities.

    Twitch0528 at 5:08 pm on March 1, 2012
  2. This is why I have been a member of a credit union for the past 19 years!

    Michelle at 5:56 pm on March 1, 2012
  3. I understand the uproar over new fees, but I think everyone should be proactive in doing the things, like direct deposit, in order to reduce or avoid them. Not only are you saving money on unnecessary bank fees, but it makes life easier.

    If you want to avoid corporate banks, do what Michelle is doing. Find a credit union or an online bank. Surely, there is a credit union or specialty bank that appeals to an group that you belong to.

    Long at 8:59 am on March 2, 2012
  4. My advice is to dump BOA any chance you can. There are so many other choices I dont know why youd bother with their bs year after year. I even dumped a credit card earning miles years ago just to get rid of anything to do with them.

    P Dude at 4:17 pm on March 4, 2012
  5. My friend who is thinking of going back to only using is BoA account will be disappointed to see this! Maybe I can convince him not to after this 🙂

    Tyler S. at 9:54 am on March 5, 2012

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