Bank of America Move Angers Low-Income Customers

Company phases out checking accounts that were free without minimum balance
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2018 1:52 PM CST
A branch office of Bank of America in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

(Newser) – Bank of America is taking serious flak over a decision to end a checking account that was popular with low-income customers because they could use it for free. Specifically, the bank phased out its eBanking program and switched all those customers to an account that charges a $12 monthly fee, reports the Wall Street Journal. The fee is waived if customers have a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or a direct deposit of at least $250, but critics say those thresholds are out of reach for too many. Under the eBanking program, customers could avoid any monthly fee, provided they did all their banking online. A Change.org petition calling on the bank to rescind the decision had nearly 50,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

"Bank of America was known to care for both their high income and low income customers," reads the petition. "I urge you to let Bank of America realize that this is unfair to their customers that have been loyal to them for years." The decision is also generating lots of criticism on social media, notes the Charlotte Observer, with many saying they were ditching Bank of America altogether. Among those tweeting was NPR's Steve Inskeep, who questioned the move with some math. "If you have $1,000 in the account, $12 is 1.2% of it—per month," he writes. "Multiply by 12 months: people without much money are charged an annual rate of 14.4% for the bank to hold their money and process checks." (Read more Bank of America stories.)

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