Tags: Banks | Fee | Backlash | public

Banks Ditch Debit Fee Plans After Public Backlash

Friday, 28 Oct 2011 01:59 PM

By Michelle Smith

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Consumers have spoken and banks appear to be listening. A month after Bank of America got pummeled by consumers and politicians for introducing plans for new debit-card fees, most other big U.S. banks are steering clear of imposing similar charges, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Chase was one of the first big banks to explore monthly fees on debit cards, the Wall Street Journal reported. The bank began testing monthly fees of $3 in Wisconsin and Georgia in February. Those tests are scheduled to end in mid-November and won't be renewed or expanded for now, said the person familiar with the bank's plans.

Other banks that have said they won't impose debit card fees include JPMorgan, Citigroup, PNC Financial Services
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Not only are banks dealing with public and government outcry over what is viewed as nickeling and diming of their client bases, they are also faced with increasing efforts by credit unions and smaller banks to lure away unhappy customers. Ahead of a grassroots movement called Bank Transfer Day on Nov. 5, credit unions are developing enticing strategies.

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(Getty Images photo)
For example, First Community Federal Credit Union will unveil its “Skip the Fee, Swipe for Free” campaign, the Credit Union Times reports.

During the months of November, December and January, the credit union plans to pay its members up to $5 each month based on their aggregate debit card point of sale transactions, the paper explained.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Huntington Bancshares reaffirmed its commitment to keeping its debit card fee-free and is replacing customers’ existing Visa debit cards with platinum MasterCard debit cards that will provide additional benefits.
Such measures appear to be working.

Huntington Bancshares said that the number of checking accounts is on the rise and that customers are deepening their relationship with the bank by adding more accounts, reported the Columbus Dispatch.

Credit unions across the nation have also been reporting increasing number of new accounts.

Senator Richard Durbin sent a letter to Wells Fargo Chief Executive John Stumpf last week complaining about the bank's new charges.

“If you were hoping that your new fee would go unnoticed, it has not," the Wall Street Journal reports that he wrote.

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