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One-Third Of U.S. Customers Say Debit Card Fees Would Push Them To Switch Banks: Survey

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More than one-third of U.S. consumers say they would switch banks over new debit card fees. | Getty

For many, debit card fees could be enough to push customers to go through the hassle of switching banks.

About one-third of consumers say they'd leave their bank if it put debit card fees in place, according to a survey by the Research Intelligence Group, Bloomberg reports. More than 40 percent of respondents say they would use cash or credit cards instead of debit cards in response to the fees.

The findings come as big banks face criticism for implementing fees on once-free checking account surveys including debit cards. Bank of America announced last month that it would charge customers $5 per month starting in 2012 to use their debit card for purchases. After the announcement angry consumers took to Twitter with some urging Bank of America customers to switch banks.

Two Bank of America customers in Santa Cruz, California tried to do just last Sunday and were almost arrested. The two women, who are affiliated with Occupy Santa Cruz, walked into a Bank of America branch and attempted to close their accounts. In response, the bank’s manager threatened to lock the doors and call the police.

In New York, about two dozen protesters were arrested after they entered a Citibank branch Saturday and refused to leave.

Wells Fargo -- another bank testing a debit card fee -- is hoping that by charging a smaller debit fee customers will remain with the bank. CEO John Stumpf told analysts on an earnings call earlier this week that the bank would only try to recoup some of the revenue lost through new regulations by upping debit card fees for customers, Consumer Affairs reports.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan has said that the new debit card fees are necessary for banks to offset revenue that will be lost through the implementation of financial reform regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act, including a cap on the amount banks can charge merchants per debit card swipe. The bank reported a $6.2 billion profit in its third quarter Tuesday.

Still, the bank may not be able to remain so profitable once the fees are put in place if customers do indeed decide to switch banks. The nation's largest credit union experienced a volume of new account openings that was more than 20 percent higher than normal the weekend after Bank of America announced the fees.

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