More banks hit customers with fees - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

ConsumerWatch

More banks hit customers with fees

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email 

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Some Regions Bank customers might find their account a little shorter Saturday. Just add Bank of America to the growing list of institutions that will soon charge customers for swiping their debit cards.  The bank just announced it would begin adding the $5 fee, per month starting in 2012.

Wells Fargo is starting a test program of charging its customers $3 per month in October. Georgia is one of the states where the program is being piloted.  If you use your debit card, you'll be charged the fee no matter how many times you swipe.  It doesn't apply to ATM usage and some accounts are exempt.  Also, it's the "account" that's charged, so joint account holders who have two cards won't be hit twice. A spokesperson said the fees will kick in Oct. 14th and show up on the Nov. 14th billing statement.

SunTrust is already charging its customers and Regions Bank will begin its $4 debit card fee for certain accounts Oct. 1st.

Regions Bank issued the following statement:

Regulations have changed and, as a result, we and other banks are adjusting how we cover the costs of providing debit cards. For some customers, that will mean a monthly fee for a debit card beginning in October. We encourage customers to talk with their banker to make sure their checking account best fits their needs and how they prefer to manage their finances.

We spoke with officials with Columbus based Synovus and CB&T.  CB&T does not currently charge for debit card usage.  "We do not have plans at this time to begin charging Synovus customers to use their debit cards," says Synovus spokesperson Greg Hudgison.

So why is this happening?  Federal regulations changed earlier this year limiting the amount that banks could charge retailers when consumers use debit cards.  It's called a swipe fee.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the new cap on swipe fees will cost banks around $6.6 million annually.  Experts say they plan to make it up by hitting customers up with more fees and scaling back on rewards programs.

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