Bank Of America To Add $5 Monthly Debit Card Fee

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CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 29 (UPI) — Bank of America said it will impose a $5-per-month fee on most of its debit card accounts in a policy that would begin in early 2012.

The fee is an effort to recoup revenue lost with new bank rules that take effect in October that limit fees banks can charge retailers when customers use debit cards to make retail purchases — a charge known as a swipe fee, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

The bank said it would alert customers of the change with at least 30 days’ notice. Bank spokeswoman Betty Reiss said some premium accounts and accounts connected to Merrill Lynch, which BofA purchased in January 2009, would not be affected by the new charge.

The charge also will not apply to debit cards used for cash withdrawals at automatic teller machines, the newspaper said.

The National Retail Federation — a trade group that represents retailers in the United States and elsewhere — criticized BofA for instituting the new fee.

“Every time Congress takes a step to protect consumers, the banks use it as an excuse to raise fees,” Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said in a statement. “We’ve seen it when Congress limited late fees and overdraft fees and now we’re seeing it with swipe fees. Just as merchants and consumers are about to get some relief, they’re doing it again.”

Duncan said the new fee “speaks more to the nature of the card industry than to whether swipe fee reform should have been passed.”

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