Customers Angry Over Debit Card Charges

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COLUMBIA - Customers told KOMU 8 Friday they are unhappy Bank of America is adding a five dollar fee each month if a customer uses his or her debit card for purchases.

The bank blames the Dodd-Frank Act's Durbin amendment which limits the amount of fees banks can charge merchants on individual debit card transactions. The act is scheduled to go into effect Saturday.

Columbia Bank of America representatives refused to talk about the new debit card policy, but a national company spokesperson, Betty Riess, issued a written statement. 

Riess explained, "The economics of offering a debit card have changed with recent regulations.  As a result we have decided to introduce a monthly usage fee for customers who use their debit cards for purchases."

The new policy allows the bank to charge most customers five dollars each month they make a store purchase. This means that customers who use their debit card at an ATM to withdraw money will not be charged until they use the card to make a purchase.

Additionally, the fee will be waived for customers with certain premium accounts and Wealth Management/Merrill Lynch and US Trust clients. 

Local Bank of America customer Aaron Finkel said, "If they do make this change it will certainly be a reason for me to change banks.  I'm not a big banking customer so any standard fees are not something I want to deal with."

John Risvold, an MU law student and Bank of America customer, said that the fee will specifically hurt Columbia due to the overwhelming amount of college students with tight budgets.

Risvold said, "I think it will have a lot of effect on college students.  We're all on tight budgets.  We're all poor college students so that five dollars goes a long way.  That's an extra lunch, an extra gallon of gas."

Bank of America said that it will notify customers in writing at least 30 days before it begins assessing the fee.