MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Bank of America is planning major changes to take more of your money per month unless you agree to do more business with the company, according to the Wall Street Journal.
BoA hasn’t decided what the final plans will be but it is experimenting with several different plans in at least three states.
The move by BoA to look for new fees comes after the banks are likely to lose billions by not being able to charge as much for debit and credit card fees.
According to the Journal, the plan is also a sign that the banking industry is coming under increasing stress as low interest rates, slow economic growth, and the new restrictions on card fees begin to erode the hundreds of billions of dollars of profits the industry at one time produced.
BoA’s programs including charging from $6 to $9 a month for what the bank calls an “essentials” account or giving users options on accounts that include monthly charges from $9 to $25.
But, customers can avoid the charges if they maintain minimum balances, or use more bank services, according to the Journal.
BoA has run into problems in the past when announcing fees for services. Last year, the bank took major flak and lost thousands of customers when it announced it was going to charge for debit-card purchases.
The backlash was so severe against BoA that it eventually had to give up the idea.
According to the Journal, BoA has also considered giving debit-card customers a warning before they were about to overdraft an account with an option to buy overdraft protection and charging a fee for direct-deposit customers who want to tap into their paycheck early.
All of the moves come in the wake of banking regulation from the Dodd-Frank bill passed by Congress.
The bill restricted the banking industry fee structure and has big banks looking for new ways to make up for the lost revenue with charges for customers.
The biggest winner in the dispute could be small credit unions which still offer many of the services for free that banks like BoA now charge for.
A small movement started last year to close accounts at big banks and move to credit unions, though it didn’t take off like organizers had hoped.
UPDATE: Bank of America sent out a press release just before 5 p.m. Thursday claiming the report from the Journal was not true.
“Media reports this morning provided inaccurate information. Bank of America is not planning to increase checking account fees with our existing customers. Bank of America has been testing checking account options for new accounts only, in Arizona, Georgia, and Massachusetts. Bank of America is continuing to learn from these tests and has not made any decision about when, how, or if we would change our fees on new accounts.”