Regions Bank and SunTrust customers in Mississippi and elsewhere can say goodbye to the monthly debit card fees the banks assessed for using the card for making purchases.
The Birmingham-based Regions, which holds the largest bank market share in Mississippi, followed SunTrust, Wells Fargo and Chase Bank in pulling the plug on the fees.
Regions early Monday afternoon said it had no announcements regarding the debit fees. But by 3 p.m. it issued a press statement that the $4 monthly fee initiated in October would be eliminated Nov. 1 and all fees collected so far returned to customers.
“We have heard from our customers and are responding to their feedback by eliminating the monthly fee for CheckCards,” said John Owen, head of Consumer Services for Regions.
Sun Trust, whose Mississippi locations include branches on Olive Branch, Horn Lake and Southaven, said customers made it clear they did not like the fees.
Meanwhile, Wells Fargo isn’t saying what sort of “customer feedback” it received to cause it to abruptly drop a short-lived test of charging customers for debit card use in five markets.
But you can safely bet it wasn’t positive.
So 30 days after launching a test of assessing the fees in its Georgia, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington markets, the $1.3 trillion banking giant is saying “no maas” to the $3 monthly fee for using the swipe cards at stores and restaurants and other businesses.
Had the pilot been successful, Wells Fargo’s Mississippi customers could have been subject to the fees. The San Francisco-based bank has been in Mississippi approximately one year, having converted a dozen or so Wachovia locations following a merger.
Atlanta-based SunTrust made its announcement Monday afternoon and said the fees will go away Nov. 2. “ We believe banking is a relationship business and recognize the importance of responding to client preferences,” said Brad Dinsmore, consumer banking and private wealth management executive at SunTrust. “We’ve listened to our clients’ feedback and will provide the convenience and security of check cards at no additional charge as part of all of our checking accounts.”
Chase Bank, the retail banking arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co., joined with Wells Fargo Oct. 28 in announcing it would end its monthly debit card fee, which it had been testing in the 23 states in which it operates.
Bank of America brought the loudest uproar with its announcement of plans to initiate a $5 monthly fee for debit card purchases starting sometime in 2012. The Charlotte, N.C., banking giant has given no indication it will alter its plans.
Regions and the other banks that assessed the fees say they need the revenue to help offset a halving of the approximate 44 cents they received from each merchant transaction in which their debit cards are used.
The Associated Press reports that a national backlash has been building over the monthly debit card fees. As a result, credit unions and community banks nationwide are reporting huge spikes in new accounts as consumers seek no-fee options, The AP reports.
ATM transactions are not considered point-of-sale transactions and will not trigger the fees, according to the banks that have assessed them.
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