Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
The Boston Globe has a story today outlining some new fees facing Bank of America customers. Generally, the bank is raising minimum balance standards and other requirements that would erase fees, meaning more consumers will be paying a monthly fee.
This is not a new phenomenon in the banking industry. Once upon a time, most bank customers were able to get a bank account with no monthly fees attached. Those days are now fading – if not already gone. According to the Globe, Bank of America’s monthly fees range from $6 to $25 a month.
The good news for consumers in Massachusetts is that there options for low-cost, or even no-fee, accounts.
On the no-fee side of the ledger, state-chartered banks must offer accounts with no fees to anyone 18 or younger and 65 or older. These “18-65" accounts are some of the best-kept secrets in Massachusetts, and they shouldn’t be, because they offer a great option for teens learning how to manage money or seniors living on a fixed income. We recently did a survey that found banks do a good job with the required disclosure of the accounts’ availability, but there is plenty of opportunity for more education and attention to these accounts.
Many state-chartered banks also offer low-cost banking accounts to all consumers. These low-cost accounts require no more than $25 to open the account, charge a monthly fee of no more than $3, provide at least 15 free withdrawals per month (including at least eight checks), and charge no more than $1 for additional withdrawals. Last October, we launched our “Save Money! Bank on It” campaign with banking and community organizations around the state, encouraging use of these accounts.
Getting hit with new fees – no matter the bank – is no consumer’s idea of a good time. But options exist at our great community banks for those who are looking for a better deal on their bank accounts.