NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) became the first financial institution to officially introduce a monthly $5 debit card fee to consumers, but it probably won’t be the last.
Chase (Stock Quote: JPM) is currently testing out a similar fee in Wisconsin and Wells Fargo (Stock Quote: WFC) plans to launch its own test on a $3 debit card fee in five states in October.
Industry experts have said the new fees are a “harbinger of things to come” as banks look to recoup an estimated total of $6.6 billion per year in revenue lost to the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that instituted a 21 cent-per-transaction cap on interchange or swipe fees charged to merchants each time a consumer uses his or her debit card.
How can consumers get around new debit card charges? MainStreet breaks down a few options.
Bank of America’s new fee is only applied when consumers use their debit card to make a purchase, so visiting your bank’s ATM before you hit up retailers is one way to circumvent the $5 fee. The other option consumers have is to visit the bank itself, since getting money from a teller is still a free service offered by financial institutions.
Use your credit card, even for small purchases.
This may sound a bit risky, but, in fact, for many consumers the switch wouldn’t be too hard. Data provided to MainStreet from Mint.com indicates Americans use their debit card an average of 33.9 times a month and their credit card 26.2 times in the same time period. Credit cards have also become much more attractive payment methods during the past few years, as issuers have amped up reward programs and theft protection policies in an attempt to lure the credit elite.
Those who think a credit card will enable them to run through more money than they actually have should ask their bank to issue them a separate credit card, which can be linked to a checking account. This will enable the consumer to move funds from their checking or savings accounts at the end of each day so they’re not getting slammed with a huge credit card bill at the month’s end.
Go old school and write checks.
While you admittedly won’t be able to use personal checks at local retailers, you can start using them for larger purchases, like a car payment or cable bill. This way, you’re not walking around with hundreds of dollars in your pocket that you took out at your local ATM.
Want to learn more about how consumers pay for stuff? Check out this MainStreet article that outlines how Americans use their debit cards.