Bank of America is getting rid of free checking for customers with low balances

Bank of America
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Some low-income bankers could be charged a fee for not having enough money, as Bank of America is requiring some customers to keep more money in their bank accounts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the WSJ report, those who use the eBanking service must keep at least $1,500 in their account, or have a direct deposit of $250.

Those unable to meet the account’s minimum standard will be charged $12 a month.

The changes went into effect last week.

The accounts are reportedly expensive for banks to maintain, even though they do profit off overdraft charges.

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“For anyone who chooses us as their primary bank relationship, with a direct deposit of just $250 [per] month or $3,000 [per] year, they’ll get full access to all of our financial centers, ATMs, mobile and online banking,” a Bank of America spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal. “That’s a great value and our client satisfaction scores are at all-time highs.”

Getty Images | Spencer Platt

But at least some people disagree.

A petition asking Bank of America to reconsider its position has garnered nearly 100,000 online signatures.

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“Many low income families do not meet these requirements,” Mel San, who created the petition, wrote. “There have been times where I’ve only had $10 to my name. That wouldn’t even cover the maintenance fee.”


Many people who signed the petition indicated that they would be switching banks because of the new rule.

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“Bank of America, I’m one of your higher-end clients, but I will have to end my relationship with you if you start charging low-income people the $12 monthly low balance fee. It’s usurious, inhumane and nonsensical on its face. Before you consider such a move, I suggest that you try living on minimum wage for a year with no backup, no savings, no outs and no real, financial or tangible assets. Then you’ll see how this can’t work,” one woman wrote.

Getty Images | Spencer Platt

Bank of America offers a checking account for $4.95 a month that it says is geared for low-income bankers.

Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

The account does not allow customers to overdraft, nor does it allow customers to write paper checks. But the account comes without a minimum direct deposit or balance.

Getty Images | Alex Wong

Looking for a new bank? Apparently, it is possible to find free checking today. In Bankrate’s most recent annual checking account survey, they found that 38 percent of banks surveyed offered free checking accounts. Beyond that, 61 percent of banks waived checking account fees if their customers had their paychecks set up for direct deposit.

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Among those banks that did charge a fee, the most common monthly charge was $12.

It’s possible to find a bank that offers no-string-attached checking accounts, you just need to do some research and be sure to read the fine print before you commit.

Written by Justin Boggs for Scripps National News with additional reporting by Don’t Waste Your Money staff.

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