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As the largest bank in the United States, the newly announced BofA debit card fee has a lot of consumers unhappy.
Beginning next year, customers who make debit card purchases will be charged a $5 monthly fee. Use of Bank of America ATMs will be free, and there will be no charge if no purchases are made.
Cards tied to Merrill Lynch brokerage accounts will also not be charged.
The move is part of an industry-wide bid to weather the ailing economy and new regulation. Starting on October 1, merchant processing fees will be legally capped at 21 cents per transaction. When combined with low interest rates and high capital requirements, Reuters reports that bank profits are expected to fall.
A spokesperson for the bank also told Reuters that the fees will offset overdraft and fraud protection features.
The BofA debit card is not the first of its kind. Chase and Wells Fargo are testing $3 fees in some markets, and the Associated Press reports that a number of regional banks have also instituted fees.
Banks have also started charging for basic accounts that don't meet monthly deposit and/or balance minimums.
For those who don't wish to pay the fee, there are a few options.
First, you can make all of your purchases on a credit card or with cash. Second, you can change banks. Smaller banks are less likely to have fees, and may allow you to use any ATM.
Unfortunately, there's not much more that can be done about the BofA debit card fee.