The Big Banks Have Plenty of Other Names for Fees

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Big banks in the U.S. have found a clever way to respond to the hullabaloo over the new debit-card fees some of them proposed and then had to walk back: charge new fees, but call them something else. The New York Times' Eric Dash reports this morning on the various new kinds of fees banks are now charging in lieu of the debt-card fees they wanted so badly "to make up an estimated $12 billion a year of income that vanished with the passage of rules curbing lucrative overdraft charges and lowering debit card swipe fees," as The Times writes. Here's the quick rundown of what the paper found:

  • Bank of America is now charging $5 to replace a lost debit-card, and $20 to have it rush-delivered. The bank also has also raised its fee for holding a basic MyAccess checking account to "$12 a month, up from $8.95."
  • Citigroup and Chase, which chose to not follow suit with BoA in adding a $5 monthly debit-card fee, have like BoA also raised account fees. "This month, Citigroup’s basic checking account jumped to $10 a month, up from $8," The Times writes. "Chase raised the fee on its standard checking account to $12 a month in February; many of those customers were previously charged nothing at all."
  • U.S. Bancorp is now charging an additional 50 cents per check deposited by mobile phone, and TP Bank now has a $15 charge "for each incoming domestic payment" when cash is wired to an account.
  • And it's not only fees: on average the interest rate depositors earn on their savings accounts fell from 0.8% to 0.74% during the first half of this year, and "nearly every major bank has embarked on a cost-cutting campaign, eliminating branches and staff."

Ostensibly renaming banking fees in this way is not only likely to be less of a PR distaster for banks, it also echoes a suggestion of "Weekend Update" host Seth Meyers after Bank of America decided to can its new debit-card charges. Two Saturdays ago, Meyers said:

After a huge uproar from consumers, Bank of America announced Tuesday that it was abandoning its plan to charge customers a 5 dollar fee to use their debit cards. You did it, guys! You forced Bank of America to change the name of that fee! What's this? Password rental fee?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.