While many banking giants are starting to charge fees for debit card use and other once-free services on checking accounts, one regional bank is doing exactly the opposite.
Southwest, Florida-based Community Bank is offering customers $5 per month to open a checking account, Bradenton.com reports. The payment is a direct response to big banks that have recently announced a slew of fees that they’ll be charging their customers.
“We needed to do something to help consumers who are under attack from behemoth national banks charging fees that just don’t make sense,” Katie Pembles, Community Bank president told Bradenton.com in an interview. “People have a choice of where to bank, and at Community Bank, we thought paying people $5 per month rather than charging them $5 per month was a good way to set us apart.”
Bank of America announced last month that it would charge customers a $5 fee to use their debit cards starting in 2012. Wells Fargo said in August that it would start testing a $3 debit card fee this fall and Citibank announced that they would start charging certain mid-level customers up to $20 per month for low account balances.
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and other banking officials have said that the new fees are necessary for the banks to recoup revenue that they’ll lose as a result of the new Dodd-Frank regulations that cap the fees banks can charge merchants for debit card swipes, among other things.
President Barack Obama slammed the big banks for charging the fees, saying that customers are being “mistreated.”
If the outrage on Twitter following Bank of America’s announcement is any indication, Community Bank’s offer may convince consumers to open and account with them. Credit unions have already gotten a boost from the big bank fees; Navy Federal Credit Union said new account openings were more than 20 percent higher than normal the weekend after Bank of America announced the fees.
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