In recent months many of the nation’s largest banks decided they would start charging a fee ranging from $3- $5 a month to use their debit card. Banks were responding to the new limit of debit card swipe fees enacted by Congress, down from 44 to 21 cents per transaction. Because revenue from swipe fees was essentially cut in half, banks needed to find a way to make up the lost revenue.
As more banks began to roll out the new fees, consumers started raising their voices. Twenty-two year old Molly Katchpole started a petition at Change.org to protest Bank of America’s $5 fee. It gained over 300,000 signatures and was a key part of the banks’ decisions to roll back the fees.
This is clearly a win for consumers. However, I believe that the banks will come up with sneaky ways to fee you in the coming months. They may require minimum balances. They may require a minimum number of debit card transactions a month. They may eliminate debit card reward programs.
Most of the nation’s community banks and credit unions aren’t affected by this law since it only applies to banks with total assets greater than $10 billion. Community banks, which have anywhere from a few local branches to several dozen regional branches, are likely to give you more personal service than you might get from a big bank. Visit ICBA.org to find a community bank.
Credit unions are different from community banks because they are owned by their members. They exist only to serve their members, and therefore are likely to have some of the best interest rates and lowest fees out there. In addition, if you are looking to establish or rebuild your credit, a credit union is a great place to start. Visit Asmarterchoice.org to find a credit union.
Don’t let the big banks bully you out of your money. Find a local community bank or credit union today.