Holding up a plastic debit card on the Senate floor this afternoon, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had some advice for Bank of America customers angry about the new $5 monthly fee: leave.
“Bank of America customers, vote with your feet, get the heck out of that bank,” Durbin said on the Senate floor. “Find yourself a bank or credit union that won’t gouge you for $5 a month and still will give you a debit card that you can use every single day. What Bank of America has done is an outrage.”
Durbin said consumers are rightfully outraged about last week’s announcement.
“It is hard to believe that a bank would impose such a fee on loyal customers who simply are trying to access their own money on deposit at Bank of America,” he said. “Especially when Bank of America for years has been encouraging their customers to use debit cards as much as possible.”
Most basic checking accounts at Bank of America will see a 40 percent jump in monthly costs and the bank says the debit fee will be waived for customers who upgrade to “premium” accounts that require higher minimum balances.
The Dodd-Frank financial law this month lowers “interchange fees” that banks can charge retailers for debit transactions. Fees for retailers will shrink from 44 cents to a cap of 24 cents, which has led some debit card issuers to seek other ways to make up that lost revenue. Some people have blamed Durbin for his amendment, which capped the so-called swipe fees that banks can charge retailers.
“I am honored to be connected with this effort,” Durbin said today. “What we are doing is fair to try to strike some balance in an industry that has shown little or no balance. And one of the worst offenders in this is Bank of America, the largest bank in the United States.”
Meanwhile, the Bank of America homepage was down today for the second consecutive business day, which bank officials attributed to traffic and not hackers or malware.