Wells Fargo, Chase Bank Testing Monthly Fees for Debit Card Usage

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The fees are coming! Since February, Chase Bank has been testing out a monthly fee for anyone who uses their ATM debit card for purchases in areas of Northern Wisconsin. Regions Bank and Suntrust have added fees as well. Per this CNN Money article, Wells Fargo Bank just announced that it will start charging a $3 monthly fee for debit card usage next month in Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada and Oregon. (I guess they’re afraid of messing around in California just yet.) According to this WSJ article, Wells Fargo is only announcing this fee with one of those small inserts in your monthly statements, so heads up.

I know there has been drama over debit card interchange fees, but that was just a result of two big lobbying groups – small businesses vs. big banks. It was really not about consumer rights. The result was a new law that caps debit card interchange fees at 21 cents + 0.05% of the sale amount for banks with $10 billion or more in assets. Smaller banks with debit rewards like PerkStreet (review) say that this will not affect them.

I never use my debit card for purchases, so I would not be affected by any of this. Credit cards offer more consumer protection against fraud and things like extended warranties and free insurance, on top of the ability to delay payment for 15-30 days of float. More importantly, credit card rewards are better which means more money in my pocket. However, many people do like the simplicity of debit cards for purchases. If they don’t want to pay the fees, I hope they will vote with their money and move it immediately to bank that doesn’t charge such fees. Don’t expect banks to care about your angry internet comments; affect their bottom line and they’ll listen.

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  1. I’ve been with Wells Fargo for 11 years now, and I just got a notice indicating that I will have fees for using my debit card as well as if my daily balance drops under $1,500 in the month. Neither of these are an issue for me, as I never use my debit card, but out of principle I will be closing my account. Primarily because when I opened the account it was billed as free no minimum balance checking. If they want to institute fees for people opening new accounts, that’s fine, but they shouldn’t change the terms of the account for those who have been longstanding customers.

  2. I live in NV, and I read this today in the paper. I have been removing my accounts at WF over the last couple of years due to fees and low interest. This will be the nail in the coffin for me and my wife to move our checking accounts somewhere else.

    So long Wells Fargo. My small amount of money won’t hurt you to lose, but I hope many more people do the same.

  3. I still have no earthly idea why someone would use a debit card for purchases…….

    Example, I called and cancelled a hotel reservation, and the receptionist didn’t tell me there was a cancellation fee. I called back after I got my CC statement and the manager wasn’t interested in hearing my side of the story. Called my CC, they handled the problem easily. They reversed the charge, and ~60 days later it was finalized. Even if it was a VISA debit or whatever, I don’t think it would have been that easy.

  4. debit cards……… ROFL.

  5. does this effect someone if they use their ATM/Debit card as a credit card to make purchases?

  6. Does the fee apply to plain ATM cards as well ? Can we ask for an ATM card instead of debit cards ?

  7. The article states that the fees are for debit card usage in any purchases, which make it seem like both PIN and signature-based purchases are included. You can still take cash out of ATMs and that is not a purchase.

  8. I closed my Chase checking accounts at the beginning of the year since they started having a monthly fee. Wells Fargo is also adding a monthly charge to their previously free checking accounts, so I will be closing those out over the next week or two as well.

    Thankfully Bank of America still has free checking for now. Let’s see how long that lasts.

  9. And there’s the rub – if all the banks start charging a fee, then where do you go? I remember before WAMU, banks were charging fees for everything because “they had to or they would lose all their money”. Then WAMU came in and offered free accounts and then all the other banks decided that they should offer free accounts too … in time. Now, there is no WAMU. WAMU is Chase. Wachovia is Wells Fargo. ING is Capital One and Capital One has not rulled out the idea of starting to charge fees. And sure Ally is free but it could always change – they are GMAC after all.

    I’m so tired of banks. I’m especially tired of the incompetence that greets me at all of these banks.

  10. Where do you go? You go to a credit union.

  11. One answer for the question of “where to go”.

    Online only banking. Brick and mortar banks have very little to offer that is not available with online only (or primarily online) options that typically have no fees on the simple every day things.

    I closed my last remaining brick & mortar account last year and now have accounts with Schwab & Fidelity. No fees, no hassles and pretty good service. Both still have a few physical branches but they are primarily online banks.
    Schwab is a true bank so it works like any other bank. Fidelity is really a brokerage account so the banking aspect can be wonky for some things but the experience is generally pretty good.

    Given the current monetary climate, fed interest rates and the promises of many more years of the same, there is no reason to put your money with a brick and mortar and to put up with the fees. I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who is going to notice this so I’m predicting the demise of the brick & mortar within the next 5-10 years.

  12. I had a free WF checking account for years and was keeping it open for when I move back to the best coast next year. But, they started charging a monthly fee this summer so I closed it down. Been using PenFed and Ally the past year and they’ve been great! Scanning checks to deposit is pretty much the coolest thing in the world.

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