Steve Chiotakis: Bank of America plans to roll out a new $5 monthly debit card charge starting next year. A few other banks have introduced similar fees, as those companies find ways to make money — and perhaps get a little revenge on Washington.
Marketplace New York bureau chief Heidi Moore is with us live to talk about it. Good morning Heidi.
Heidi Moore: Good morning.
Chiotakis: So $5 a month. Why do banks have to do this?
Moore: It’s rough out there, right? You have to think about the banks. The stimulus is over, they have to make money on their own. And they’re going to be unprofitable. So they’re turning over the couch cushions, basically, for anything they can find.
You’ll remember, also, that earlier this year, Congress adopted two laws limiting how much money banks can make from credit card fees, and debit card transactions. So Boston Consulting Group estimated that because of those two laws, banks would lose about $25 billion in transaction fees and that’s about a third of what they used to make on retail transactions.
Chiotakis: Given all that, is it surprising, then, that BofA is charging these debit card customers a monthly fee?
Moore: It’s really predictable in a way. When banks were negotiating with Congress, they said they’d do this and now they’re following through.
Rockwell Casey is an executive with JD Power, and he’s been predicting this for quite a while.
Rockwell Casey: Those laws have tied down revenue streams as a result of those legislation changes. And as a result of that, they’re looking for fees on checking accounts, savings accounts, ATM fees, things like that that will not eliminate but make up some of the impact.
So it’s the way of the world now in banking — unless, of course, customers walk away.
Chiotakis: Which they have the choice to do, that’s right. Marketplace’s Heidi Moore. Heidi, thanks.
Moore: Thank you, Steve.
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