In a surprising reversal, Bank of America announced yesterday it will not charge a monthly fee for debit card use. The bank's decision in September to charge customers $5 per month for card use spurred popular petitions, protests and even graffiti at some bank locations.
"We've been listening to our customers for the last couple of weeks," said Tony Allen, communications executive for Bank of America. "Given the feedback and the competitive conditions in the marketplace, it would be best if we did not continue with the fee."
In Providence, Occupy protesters had encouraged customers of the bank to close their accounts in defiance of the fee and what they saw as the bank's corporate greed.
"I was going to close my account at the end of this month," said Nasim Azizgolshani '14. "Now I'm not so sure."
Though she is against the bank's "big, bad business," a Bank of America account is convenient because she can access it from her home in New York, she said.
The proposed fee would have applied to purchases made with a debit card but not to cash withdrawals from ATMs. The fee, which would have taken effect in January, would not have applied to college student accounts, called Campus Edge accounts, Allen said.
Ganaelle Joseph '15 said she would have continued her account with the bank if the fee were implemented, but would have only used her debit card for cash withdrawals. "I don't want to pay to use money," she said. "That's ridiculous."
Young investors had another take. Lingke Wang '12 uses a credit card, so he said the fee would not have affected him. But because he is a stockholder in Bank of America, he said he is happy the bank reversed its decision.
Bank of America wants to "reward and recognize" its customers, Allen said. "That was our strategy then, and that is our strategy now."