How Many Fees Are You Willing to Pay for Basic Bank Services?Is there such a thing as a reasonable bank fee? One in three people say they are prepared to walk away from their financial institution to avoid a fee, according to a new survey conducted by The Research Intelligence Group, a market research firm.

Bank of America (BAC) learned pretty quickly last month that customers think $5 a month is too much to pay for using a debit card. Consumers and commentators expressed outrage that a formerly free service would now cost $60 a year. Wells Fargo (WFC) and Chase (JPM) are testing $3 fees for the same service in selected areas.

However, 13% of 1,000 respondents said that they would be willing to pay bank fees if they were reasonable.

So is that $5 reasonable? According to Bank of America, the fee covers fraud protection, overdraft prevention, record keeping, fraud monitoring and savings programs. While the bank did not respond to exactly how that fee price point was attained, it was likely implemented to make up for what the bank estimates it will lose per customer under new rules imposed by the federal government. In the past, banks charged stores about 44 cents each time a customer used a debit card. Now, they're only allowed to charge 24 cents. That's a 20 cent loss per swipe. The $5 fee is likely based on data that the average customer makes 25 debit card purchases a month, amounting to $5 in lost transaction revenue, according to the blog Consumer Affairs.

Wells Fargo says that the new law, part of a larger financial overhaul called the Durbin Amendment, is part of the reason that they are testing a $3 debit card fee in five states, but that there are other proprietary reasons for the fee. Chase started testing a $3 debit-card fee in two markets last February and says it has no plans to expand at the moment.

Sound fair? To be sure, bank fees are not that uncommon. Who hasn't ponied up a few dollars to pay an ATM fee? Many checking accounts charge monthly fees, as well.

But clearly the debit card fee touched a nerve. If more customers do wind up walking away from their banks, increased fees may have an unintended consequence of simply making banking unaffordable for millions of low-income Americans.

On principle, is charging a bank fee at any level too much? Or can you simply not afford to pay any more for banking services?

Catherine New can be reached at

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October 21 2011 at 4:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RICK's comment

Not as big as the lunatic left.

October 21 2011 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

WELL, What's all fair. It should be manditory these crooks have to pay us interest on all the money we don't use that month....It's out of control, when they make BILLIONS and they try and ream us for $5....

October 20 2011 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

it shouldnt even be called bank of america

October 19 2011 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bill, Why is it gouging to charge for a good or service? I use a debit card an average of 5 times a day. That amounts to around 150 times a month. I don't consider 3.5 cents a time being gouged. Nobody is forcing anybody to bank anywhere. If you are happy keeping your money in mason jars in a hole that's fine with me. A corporations job is to create value for the share holders. If a CEO gets a bonus I guess he must be creating value for the share holders or why would he get paid at all?

October 19 2011 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We all know that fees are based on profit for someone but what is a fair fee? Instead of being happy with the 24 cents they are still getting they now want to gouge the customer for what they have been overcharging us for years. We can pass all the laws we want but that will not stop the greedy mentality of wall street bankers. I have always paid cash for what I buy and several years back I wanted to rent a car in Vegas but was told I needed a credit card to rent one. I offered them a $5,000.00 deposit which is larger that most credit cards limits but was told no. Since I didn't need the car I walked out and I still don't want a credit card. There should be a law against the misuse of these companies against those of us who have chose a responsible money management system. Weneed to take baqck our country from thes businesses and go elsewhere . Banks are not our friends they are our worse enemy along with a government who allows this kind of predetory lending practices.

October 19 2011 at 8:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What annoys me the most about this particular bank fee from Bank of America is that it was only a few short years ago they were touting the use of the ATM cards instead of using your checks. There would an added charge for check writing and storage. You no longer could get your checks in your bank statement and using the ATM card would eliminate these fees. Now we are having another fee imposed on something that is just an electronic transfer of money. Maybe just paying the CEO an annual salary without the millions in bonus money could eliminate this fee that is creating such a controversy.

October 19 2011 at 8:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just another turd in the punch bowl.

October 19 2011 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Blame Obama, not the banks. He signed the bill that caused this. I bank at BOA and they do not charge to use the banks ATM. Why do people bother writing thinds they know nothing about? Five dollars is a small fee for what they offer. Does anyone remember paying bills in the mail and buying stamps? I save at least that much every month with on line bill paying.

October 19 2011 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And then there is the "float." How is it you can send a check to pay a creditor that "swipes" the routing number to the bank and it is instantly paid, but if you deposit a check--payroll, from a friend or creditor--it takes a day or two for the amount to be credited to your account while the bank uses your money?

October 19 2011 at 8:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Boo Bear's Nanny

Bank of America is nothing but legal theives. I had an account with them and within two months they were charging all kinds of fees for services that were not used. I got fed up when I could not get a straight answer out of anyone about these fees. I closed the account and moved it to another bank that had no fees. They need to go over this banks records completely and they will find fraud on just about everyones accounts.

October 19 2011 at 8:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply