Bank of America, the nation’s largest bank by deposits, faced an uproar on social media Tuesday after it announced it would be eliminating its free checking option.
The bank will now charge customers $12.50 per month for accounts with daily balances below $1,500 and direct deposits below $250. Such a move will disproportionately affect customers living on fixed incomes who do not have access to direct deposits, freelancers whose monthly incomes fluctuate, and the bank’s low income clients—all of whom will effectively be paying more to access their cash and process their payments. Many critics have questioned the ethics of this decision, carried out on the heels of the bank’s purported windfall following the passing of the tax bill. Reportedly, Bank of America will emerge as a beneficiary of the new legislation to the tune of $3.5 billion per year.
The decision sparked a backlash online with bank customers launching a Change.org petition asking the bank to drop the requirements. As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had over 50,000 signatures. There's still no word on whether the bank will rescind its new maintenance fee requirements. But a change looks unlikely, as bank maintenance fee increases have been part of a recent trend among the country’s largest banks.
To those affected, particularly longtime loyal customers, the decision appears blatantly unfair. Essentially, these customers will be paying a premium to house their money at Bank of America.
But don’t despair! There has never been a better time for banking customers to vote with their wallets. Not only are there a number of community banks and credit unions offering checking and savings products free of charge, but as we’ve previously discussed, so many of them actually provide superior services across the board. From higher interest rates and dividends on savings and checking, to fewer fees just to access one’s own money, community financial institutions really highlight the ways that customers of large banks are simply leaving money on the table.
Solving this very issue is at the heart of Lifesaver’s values. You shouldn’t have to spend money to save money, and you certainly shouldn’t have to spend money just to have money. Download Lifesaver today and get matched with the best financial options from your community, and with the most innovative financial technology companies from around the web.