Bank of America Testing New Accounts and Fees

Consumers brace themselves for changes from the country's largest bank.

ByABC News
January 6, 2011, 1:03 PM

— Jan. 6. 2011 -- Bank of America is testing changes in its account programs, along with a new fee structure. The company will try out four new products under the pilot program beginning later this month, for new customers in Arizona, Georgia, and Massachusetts, states which represent 10 percent of Bank of America's customers.

The new account structure includes a basic checking account called "Bank of America Essentials" with a monthly fee of $9.

Currently, basic checking customers can avoid a monthly $8.95 service charge by maintaining a balance of around $1,500 or by having at least one direct deposit made each statement period.

A Bank of America spokesperson said today, customers will not be able to avoid a monthly service fee in the new "Essentials" account, even if they maintain a minimum balance amount or by using direct deposits.

"Many of our customers choose to have a monthly fee. They like that predictability," said Susan Faulkner, Bank of America Deposits and Card Product Executive, during a press conference today.

The other new accounts unveiled today, called, "Enhanced" and "Premium," would apply to customers with higher balances and multiple interest-bearing checking and savings accounts, or link to its credit card or mortgage services. And a new "Platinum Privileges" account requires the use of Bank of America's investment services.

Customers choosing those accounts will have to maintain higher minimum balances than previously. Bank of America has not yet disclosed what fees will be assessed, if balances fall below the minimum.

New customers in the states in the pilot program will only have the four test products, or the bank's "eBanking" program available to them, bank officials said at a press conference today. Customers with an "eBanking" account can choose a monthly fee or sign up for paperless statements and make all deposits and withdrawals online or at an ATM.