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Banks slam customers with fees

Swiping a debit card for our purchases has become second nature—but usually we don’t expect the bank to hit us with a monthly fee for it. Using a debit card was once a free service, until banks such as Bank of America decided to start charging its customers for it.

On Sept. 29, the largest bank in the nation announced that it would start charging its customers $5 a month, effective next year, to use their debit cards for purchases.

Bank of America isn’t the only bank robbing its customers. According to the New York Times, other major banks, such as Wells Fargo and Chase, will be testing a $3 monthly fee. This month, Regions Financial has jumped on the bandwagon with a $4 fee and SunTrust is also charging $5.

The change comes about as U.S. banks are seeking new ways to make up for money loss due to new financial industry regulations. Each time a customer swipes his or her debit card, the retailer pays the bank a certain percentage in return. New regulations have placed a cap on how much money the banks can now charge the retailer, creating unstable revenue.

The problem is that banks have decided to shift fees from the retailers to its customers. Customers are outraged at the news of debit card fees and are considering moving their money elsewhere—and rightfully so.

FierceFinance reported that a recent poll of 7,000 people revealed that 83 percent would stop banking with Bank of America and 11 percent said they would avoid the fees by using cash. Driving to an ATM and withdrawing cash each time a customer wants to spend money is just plain inconvenient and seems to be a move backwards when compared to the convenience of simply swiping a debit card, wherever, whenever.

A monthly $5 fee may not seem like a huge deal, but bills add up, especially for college students. Some students work multiple jobs while trying to get through school, so it’s the principle of the matter—why pay for something when you can get it for free somewhere else?

Customers unsatisfied with their bank’s fees should take their business elsewhere. There are other options in Valdosta.

Community banks and credit unions are the best places to look.

Bank of the Ozarks is an excellent alternative for those looking to avoid unnecessary fees. Checking accounts are free, and each one comes with a free debit card with no monthly fees. Georgia Power Valdosta Federal Credit Union is another great option since, like all credit unions, it operates as a non-profit financial cooperative. It offers an entirely free checking account without a debit card fee as well.

These are just a few options out there. In today’s economy, every penny counts and customers don’t have to put up with the unnecessary fees.

In the meantime, hopefully larger banks will get it together and find an alternative source of revenue rather than using their customers to keep afloat.

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