Most Big Banks Hesitant of Imposing Debit Card Fees

October 29 00:00 2011

New York, October 29 ( – Most big U.S. banks are now hesitant of imposing new debit card fees after Bank of America got severely criticized by consumers and politicians and faced threats of a mass exodus for introducing plans for the same about a month back. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has decided not to charge customers for use of debit cards to make purchases after eight months of consumer testing. Its retail unit is one of the largest US consumer banks, with 26.5 million checking accounts and 5,300 branches.

Other big banks like U.S. Bancorp, Citigroup Inc., PNC Financial Services Group Inc., and KeyCorp have joined JPMorgan in refusing to impose the monthly fees on debit cards. However, none of them attributed their decision to the protests over Bank of America’s fees.

David Bowen, who runs the consumer-product business at Cleveland-based Key, which ranks among the 20 largest banks in the country said, “We looked at all options and quickly decided it didn’t fit with our overall strategy.”

Banks are trying to find ways and means of recovering billions of dollars that will be lost from new restrictions on debit cards, credit cards and overdrafts. Most big banks have eliminated free checking for those customers who don’t meet essential criteria on their accounts, such as minimum balances or a certain number of direct deposit transactions.