POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011 - 6:01pm
UPDATED: Friday, October 28, 2011 - 11:52pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Customer outrage aimed at Bank of America has reached a fever pitch after the bank announced it'll soon charge a monthly fee for using its debit card. The bank's website has been inundated with complaints and may explain why the website went down this afternoon. Those outraged are even threatening to bank someplace where they won't face such fees, but they're likely to find their options limited.
Bank of America will be charging five dollars a month for customers who use the bank's debit card to make purchases.
"Five dollars is a lot! I mean, it's a gallon of gas almost," Rebecca Letsome, Bank of America customer, said.
The bank also plans to charge anyone who uses their debit card to make recurring payments, like a utility bill.
"The first thing I thought was to go to another bank, but then they're probably all going go to that," Connie Edwards, Bank of America customer, said.
Indeed, Wells Fargo and Chase have been testing $3 monthly debit card fees, while many regional banks will follow Bank of America's five dollar fee.
"It’s just another slap in the face for Bank of America customers."
Spokesmen for the banking industry say the fees are necessary to make up for lost revenue after the Dodd-Frank Act restricted the way banks make money.
"We don't like doing this,” Richard Hunt, Consumer Bankers Association, explained. “It was the last thing we wanted to do, and unfortunately we were forced to do this by government intervention."
Not all banks are raising fees, which consumer groups say will increase competition.
"Consumers don't have to take it,” Pamela Banks, Consumers Union representative, explained. “They have options. They can go to other banks, community banks in particular, some credit unions, and they can shop for a better deal."
Analysts say that because it suffered more in the financial crisis, Bank of America's debit fee is steeper than most of its competitors.
Banks here in Louisiana say they're also looking at the debit card fee.