As fees creep in, customers explore banking options

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX -- Bank of America stock made a big jump Thursday along with the rest of the market, but many people are watching to see what will happen when the bank starts charging $5 a month to customers who use their debit card to buy things.

A new poll by Creditcards.com shows 81 percent of people will start paying with cash, while 78 percent said they would switch banks.

It remains to be seen if the new fee will lead to a mass exodus as it did with Netflix.  But other financial institutions see it as a chance for more customers.

Arizona central credit union does a brisk business in the valley.  But over the last month, the interest from new customers went way up according to Vice President of Marketing, David Kexel.

“We have seen a 200 percent increase to our website regarding our checking account pages,” said Kexel.  “People are out there and searching for new deals.”

Plenty of them are finding their way into branches and opening new accounts.

Deb Ramsey says fees elsewhere add to her stress.

“You have to, you know, conserve your finances and there's just more fees,” Ramsey said.

Richard Contreras splits money between several financial institutions, but he is considering pulling it out of banks.

“I still get a fee on my own money,” Contreras said of his over-draft protection plan.  “It's pretty ridiculous.  They get you one way or the other.  It just seems that way.”

Complaints about bank fees are nothing new, but it seemed to hit a fever pitch last month when Bank of America announced it would start charging it's customer's $5 a month to use their debit cards.

Bank of America sent an email saying: "This new fee allows us to continue to offer the service and convenience customers have come to expect from Bank of America."

But for those trying to save every dime, $5 might push them to try something new.

Other major banks are experimenting with fees as well.  New federal regulations limit how much banks can charge businesses who accept debit cards.  Bank of America says that is why they will charge the people who use them.