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Debit card fees drive bank customers away
Big banks cancel fees after public outrage over the move
The big banks are changing their minds about charging customers to swipe their debit cards for purchases. - photo by Tom Reed

Most big banks have decided to drop debit card fees they recently instituted after customer outrage about the move lead to the closing of accounts.

The fees came about as a solution to recover revenue lost due to federal legislation that capped the amount banks could charge retailers for debit transactions.

"It's not to my benefit to pay them to have access to my money," Keith Clark of Oakwood said.

Clark said he closed accounts at two separate banks because of the fees and is seeking a local bank.

Wells Fargo instituted the fees in October as part of a five-state pilot plan.

"We listened to our customers and decided to cancel the pilot," said Jamie Dexter, Wells Fargo communications consultant.

The $3 fee would have appeared on bank statements after Nov. 14, but customers will now not be charged.

"No matter what, nobody is getting charged," Dexter said.

Bank of America canceled its $5 debit fee and Regions will refund the debit fees customers have been charged.

Lee Ramey and his wife banked with Regions for several years. As the owner of JSS Landscaping in Gainesville, Ramey and his wife had four accounts with the bank.

After his wife opened one of the statements and found a fee for $19 they decided they'd had enough.

"We decided to look for another (bank) that was not charging," Ramey said.

Ramey said he never had to pay a fee as long as he maintained a minimum balance and used direct deposit.

"I think I'm going to go with a smaller bank, a local bank," Ramey said.

Susan Williams, marketing director of Peach State Bank & Trust said nearly 50 percent of their new customers this month have come as a direct result of the fees. She said because her bank only has one branch they have to try to accommodate customers by not charging fees at ATMs and offering unlimited transactions.


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