Banks roll back some fees

A cyclist rides past a Bank of America branch on September 12, 2011 in Chicago, Ill.

Kai Ryssdal: One hesitates to make too much of any given news item on any given day, but I draw this to your attention today.

Bank of America has backed off those plans it announced a week or two ago to charge fees for debit cards. Chase and Wells Fargo 86'd their fees while they were still in the testing stage.

But Marketplace's Adriene Hill reports banks are eventually gonna getchya.


Adriene Hill: Fighting bank fees seem a little like playing whac-a-mole. You know, the game were a mole pops up, you smash it down and another mole pops up somewhere else.

Sure, customers got a win today when they thumped down big banks' plans to charge for debit cards. But:

Jim Sinegal: I don't think the banks are just going to take this lying down.

Jim Sinegal is an analyst at Morningstar.

Sinegal: I think they are going to try to implement other fees in other areas, new ways of charging customers in order to maintain the same level of profitability they had previously.

He says fees will keep popping up -- like those moles -- as banks try to make up the billions in revenue they're expected to lose from laws that limit fees for debit card purchases and account overdrafts.

Mitchell Petersen is the chair of the finance department at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Mitchell Petersen: In some sense, the checking accounts we have always perceived to be free in the last decade because we haven't formally paid fees for them, they're never free.

The service costs banks -- they've got to pay for it somehow -- and the big banks have to answer to a group of people other than account holders.

Petersen: All these fee changes are, on one side I have customers and on the other side I have shareholders.

Petersen expects the next set of fees could pop up in the form of new costs for checks or maybe raising minimum deposit amounts. So you're going to want to keep your eyes trained on those bank statements.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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