Customers Upset as Bank of America Ends Free Checking with eBanking
Bank of America has made a change to their checking account program and many of their consumers are outraged.
The bank has officially ended its eBanking program, which offered free checking to customers as long as they did not use a teller for deposits or withdrawals. Existing customers were switched to a Core Checking account, which requires a $12 monthly maintenance fee.
Customers can avoid the maintenance fee if they have at least one direct deposit of at least $250 each month, or if they keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500. High school, college and vocational students may have the fee waived if they are under the age of 24.
Prior to the change, the eBanking checking account required an $8.95 maintenance fee, but avoiding those charges was much easier. If customers signed up for e-statements and used self-service features like online banking and in-network ATMs, they did not have to pay the fee. The eBanking program ended in 2013, but customers who already had this account were allowed to continue using it.
Angry customers created a petition on Change.org urging Bank of America to provide free checking services. The petition says, “Many low income families do not meet these requirements.” Over 48,000 people have virtually signed the petition as of Tuesday morning.
Bank of America does offer a less expensive checking account, but there is no option to avoid the monthly fees. The SafeBalance Banking Account requires a $4.95 maintenance fee, and does not allow customers to overdraft their accounts. This setup is meant to save customers from costly overdraft fees, which cost an average of $35 per transaction. In 2016, a Pew study showed more than two-thirds of Americans would rather have their transactions declined than have to pay an overdraft fee.
Checking accounts are costly for banks to maintain, and most banks earn their profits from overdraft fees and other unexpected costs (out-of-network ATM fees, stop payments, wire transfers, etc.). Bank of America’s new program is in line with many of its competitors, but the bank may need to reconsider the fee setup to preserve customer satisfaction.