2011 Debit Fees Were Shut Down, But What Other Charges Are to Come in 2012? Tips to Prevent Your Bank from Taking Advantage of You

Remember the bad publicity that Bank of America and several other major banking institutions inflicted on themselves in late 2011 when they announced a new $5.00 monthly checking/debit card fee?  Well, after several nationwide protests from angry customers, BOA caved and retracted their monthly debit fee agenda.

The reason financial institutions are looking for new means of revenue is because of the final implementation of the CARD Act of 2009 which went into effect on Oct. 1.  The final leg of this legislation slashed the fee banks could charge merchants every time a customer swiped their credit or debit card.  Before the law went into effect, banks charged merchants 44 cents per debit/credit card transaction.  Now banks can only charge merchants 12 cents per transaction. This may sound like a small amount of money per transaction, but multiply it by millions of customers, and it forced banks to lose billions of dollars in revenue.

Although banks have seen a decline in profit, they are still making returns in the billions. Many major media outlets including USA Today have predicted that new charges and fees will soon come.  But this time, banks have smartened up and rather than charging for a service that customers have always received for free, new upgraded services will be offered.

If your bank tries to charge you unreasonable fees or tries to force a new unnecessary service on you, here are some tips to use to be a financially savvy bank customer:

  1. Take to Twitter! – Use your free resources to get your voice out! Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter offered a voice to millions of Americans that were upset with the debit fee scandal in 2011 and was one of the major contributing factors that led to nixing the plan altogether.  You have a voice and you should remember that it matters.  Give feedback respectively while getting the point across that you will not be taken advantage of by big money hungry corporations.
  2. Call your bank – Call your bank if you see a new unfamiliar fee on your banking statement. Remember – make a formal complaint! You can even reach out to agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission if you feel like you are being treated unfairly by your bank. If enough people complain, that bank will be forced to make some resolutions.  Also, by filing a complaint with a customer service manager, you may receive complimentary services or have that fee you were unknowingly charged revoked.
  3. Make the switch  — If you truly get fed up with your bank, take your money somewhere else.  Look into opening a checking account with your local credit union or use an online-only bank  – there are plenty of other institutions that can securely hold your money and offer great cash back incentives and no fees!