Your debit card could soon cost you money

A new Bank of America policy has debit users fired up. / Moneyblognewz (Flickr)

Starting early next year, Bank of America plans to begin charging its customers a five dollar monthly fee when they make debit card purchases.

A spokesperson for Bank of America says customers will be charged if they use their debit card for a purchase in any given month. However, customers will not be charged if they use their debit card at an A-T-M.

The bank, like others, has been testing ways to recover debit-card revenue that is going away because of new regulations.

According to published reports, banks previously had charged merchants 44 cents on average every time they accepted a debit card for a purchase. Under new regulations that take effect Saturday, banks with more than $10 billion in assets will be able to charge merchants only 21 cents to 24 cents per transaction.

Several banks have already introduced or started testing debit card fees. Chase and Wells Fargo have been testing a three dollar debit card fee in select markets, but neither bank has said when it'll make the fee permanent. Bank of America's fee will hit consumers the hardest, because they are the largest U.S. bank by deposits. this week found that just 45 percent of checking accounts are now free with no strings attached. That's down from 65 percent last year, and 76 percent in 2009. Free checking is still available in most cases, but only if they meet certain conditions, such as setting up direct deposit.

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