Bank of America offering more choice in checking accounts
Bank of America has unveiled a new pilot program that gives members of the bank more choices regarding their checking accounts. The bank is offering new customers in select areas choices between checking accounts with varying structures of bank fees. Bank of America and other large national banks have been steadily raising fees.
New pilot program lets customers choose banking fees
A new pilot program by Bank of America allows customers to choose from several different checking account plans; this allows greater choice regarding which account fees they prefer to potentially face, according to ABC. The largest national banks have come under criticism for charging excessive banking fees, and now Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and others have rolled out new programs for checking accounts to make fees more transparent. The new B of A checking account programs are being offered in Georgia, Arizona and Massachusetts.
Monthly fees vary by account type
Bank of America is offering five checking account options, and fees range from $6 to $25 per month. The account types include:
- Essentials: Simple checking account with a debit card. The monthly account fee is $8.95, but the fee is waived if a customer receives monthly direct deposits or maintains a minimum account balance of $1,500.
- eBanking: Also simple checking. However, customers can waive most fees altogether by banking entirely online or through an ATM and electing to receive electronic statements instead of paper. However, overdraft, non-sufficient funds and ATM fees will still likely apply.
Account options with greater amenities are geared toward wealthier account holders.
- Enhanced: Account fees are waived if customer has a minimum balance of $2,000 in one account or $5,000 across linked accounts. The Enhanced account offers two linked checking and two savings or money market accounts. Enhanced account holders can also have fees waived with monthly use of linked credit cards.
- Premium: Fees are waived with a minimum balance of $20,000 across linked accounts, certain Merill Lynch investment accounts or a mortgage through Bank of America. This account offers services such as cashier’s checks and money orders for free.
- Platinum Privileges: Customers must have a minimum account balance of $50,000 in order to be eligible for these perks: Personalized customer service, a Privileges credit card, special rates on mortgages and money market accounts.
Bank fees on the rise
As the federal government has increased regulatory pressure on banks to curtail deceptive fee practices, account fees have been steadily rising at the nation’s largest banks. B of A, Chase and Wells Fargo are trying to make up for revenues lost when the Dodd-Frank Act curtailed fee practices that weren’t made clear to customers, e.g. enrolling checking account holders in costly overdraft protection programs without notifying them.