The nation’s beleaguered banking industry, which has been raising fees and doing away with free services, has a new target: debit-card users.
Bank of America Corp. is laying plans to charge millions of customers a $5 monthly fee to use their debit cards, and other big banks are expected to follow suit. The industry says it needs the fees to recoup revenue it will lose because of new government regulations taking effect Saturday that cap what they can charge merchants for debit-card transactions.
Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank by assets, disclosed the plan on Thursday in a memo to its senior staff. It intends to begin collecting the fees nationwide early next year.
Several other large banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., are testing or plan to test similar fees in some states. Regions Financial Corp., a Birmingham, Ala.-based lender, has said it will start charging a $4 monthly debit-card usage fee on certain accounts on Oct. 1.
New federal limits on debit-card “swipe fees” are expected to cost U.S. banks an estimated $6.6 billion a year in lost revenue.
To offset that lost revenue, many banks have eliminated or scaled back debit-rewards programs, added monthly fees for checking accounts and raised minimum balance requirements for customers to avoid certain fees.
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