Bank of America Readying New Fees

Will likely drive off free checking customers

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 1, 2012 7:24 AM CST

(Newser) – 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.

Brian T. Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012.
Brian T. Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Jean-Christophe Bott)
In this Dec. 7, 2011 photo, a woman passes a Bank of America office branch in New York.
In this Dec. 7, 2011 photo, a woman passes a Bank of America office branch in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A man walks past an ATM outside the Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, NC, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.
A man walks past an ATM outside the Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, NC, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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