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New Bank Fees

September 6, 2011, 9:50 PM by Angela Kennecke

New Bank Fees
SIOUX FALLS, SD - You're used to getting your debit card and checking accounts for free. But a growing number of banks are introducing or testing monthly charges for those services. Wells Fargo is one of those doing just that.

Nobody leaves home without them anymore. Debit card use is more common-place than cash or credit. But that convenience could end up costing you in the form of a monthly fee.

"I don't think it's right. I don't think we should get charged," Angelita Farrell said.

"I don't like having to pay them. It doesn't seem fair. I don't know the purpose for them. It just seems to be a way for them to make more money," Barb Carpenter said.

Banks say it's not to make more money, but to make up for money they've lost.

"The regulatory changes in Washington have made us all pause and look at our pricing," Wells Fargo Senior Vice President Pam Moser said.

Banks are experimenting with fees in response to a new regulation that limits how much they can collect from merchants whenever customers swipe their debit cards.

"This regulatory change has impacted all the banks, so we all need to take a look at what we need to do more or differently as part of our entire account review and debit cards are clearly one of those," Moser said.

Wells Fargo will begin testing out a $3 monthly fee for debit cards next month in several cities, but not in South Dakota yet. It will, however, begin charging $7 a month for checking accounts here.

"Some customers can get a discount of $2 if they receive a statement through online checking," Moser said.

Checking account customers can also avoid the fees in other ways such as by keeping a minimum daily balance or having direct deposit. But Wells Fargo knows that customers will question the move.

"It's my money and I get to chose how I spend it and if I'm going to be charged extra for it, I'm going to think about that," Kate Niemann said.

Wells Fargo says it's trying to talk with all of its checking account customers to explain the new fees and give them options on how to avoid them.

As far as debit card fees go, the bank will monitor customer response in the five test states before implementing it in more markets.

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