The public relations disaster that was Bank of America's plan to charge customers monthly debit card fees was apparently so much fun that bank execs can't wait to try it again: In what the Wall Street Journal calls a sign of "stresses" in the banking industry, BofA is again looking at wide-ranging fees unless customers do significantly more business with the bank or agree to bank online. The move is politically risky, but with 2011 revenue down 22% over 2009, the bank is looking to drum up some cash from somewhere.
BofA is currently testing account options that charge between $6 and $25 a month, giving consumers outs if they maintain certain minimum balances or take out a credit card or mortgage. The fees would likely drive away customers who keep simple free checking accounts, which BofA doesn't see as a bad thing because those accounts generally cost banks money. "They will keep everybody they are making money with and try to shed everybody else," says an expert, who notes that the new fees will likely affect more BofA customers than the proposed debit card fees would have.