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Another fee bites the dust: Wells Fargo backs off debit charge

October 28, 2011 |  5:29 pm

Wells branch-credit Paul Sakuma AP
Joining an industry's retreat in the face of customer protests, Wells Fargo has abandoned the idea of charging debit card fees -- the third major bank to back away from such plans in a day.

The San Francisco banking giant had planned to test a monthly $3 fee for users of its debit cards in five states. It said in a statement Friday that it had called off that pilot program "as a response to customer feedback the bank has received."

"We will continue to stay attuned to what our customers want," said Ed Kadletz, head of Wells Fargo’s debit card division.

A host of critics including President Obama have attacked Bank of America's plan to charge account holders $5 a month if they use their debit cards to make purchases. The populist outrage, highlighted by protests staged by the Occupy Wall Street movement, has caused other major U.S. banks to hold off on imposing similar fees.

Earlier Friday, Bank of America backpedaled, saying it would make it easier for its customers to avoid the fee by waiving the charge if they also used BofA credit cards, maintained minimum account balances or made certain direct deposits. Details of the revised plan had not been finalized, a person familiar with the changes said.

Also Friday, JPMorgan Chase said that after its own eight-month testing of $3 monthly debit card fees it had decided against imposing them on its customers.

Citibank, US Bank and Union Bank are among other major institutions that have now taken the no-debit-fee pledge. However, certain regional banks, such as SunTrust and Regions, already have implemented fees similar to those at Bank of America.

It will be interesting to see what other new charges the banks cook up as they try to make up for revenue lost to new regulations governing credit card, overdraft and debit card practices that were imposed in the aftermath of the financial crisis.   

RELATED:

BofA backpedals on $5 debit fee

Chase opts out of debit-card fee

Debit card users may switch banks over new fees

-- E. Scott Reckard

Photo: Wells Fargo in San Francisco. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

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