BofA to Test Tiered Banking Fees

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Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) will test a tiered priced system for its customers that will reward customers who manage their accounts responsibility and impose fees on those who don’t, the company confirmed today.

“We are going to begin testing different offerings,” Anne Pace, spokesperson for Bank of America, told MainStreet. She said the new tiered system, which has been speculated about for awhile, will enter its test phase at the end of year.

Pace confirmed the new tiered system will reward customers who maintain a minimum current account balance, use credit cards a certain number of times per month and conduct all banking transactions electronically.

According to an article in the Financial Times, customers that don't adhere to the above guidelines will be charged higher fees. This will enable the bank to increase revenue without imposing controversial charges across the board, fees that would otherwise be necessary due to new restrictions that have limited bank fees.

These restrictions have cost many banks a substantial amount of revenue. According to the Greenlining Institute, a public policy research group, more than 50 million Americans overdrew their checking account at least once in 2009, paying a whopping total of $23.7 billion in overdraft fees for the year.

Just this past August, new laws went into effect that required banks to let customers opt out of overdraft protection. This means if a consumer’s bank account can’t cover a purchase, their debit card will be declined at the point of sale, and no overdraft fee will be applied.

Earlier this year, Bank of America elected to eliminate overdraft fees at its ATMs, providing consumers with a warning before a charge could be imposed. Prior to the change, consumers would be charged $35 for each overdraft transaction. The Financial Times estimates the adjustment has caused Bank of America about $1 billion in additional revenue.

Pace declined to comment on any the specifics of the tiers, but did say that customers will be given a choice of tiered plans.

“Once [the system] is tested and delivered, difference choices will be available for customers based off of their needs,” Pace said.

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