How To Avoid That Obnoxious $5 Per Month Debit Card Fee

$5 per month for the “privilege” of spending your own money — that’s $60 per year — is a lot of money, especially when you consider the fact that you aren’t getting much in return… no reward points, cash back, or air miles. (Bank of America and several other large U.S. banks are set to begin the outrageous debit card fee in early 2012, just a couple months from now.)

I know this fee will rub quite a few of Outlaw‘s readers the wrong way. I’m annoyed, too.

So here’s how to avoid the fee, AND keep your debit card:

1. Stop making purchases on your debit card when the new policy takes effect. If the debit card is used ONLY to withdraw or deposit cash at an ATM, you won’t be assessed the monthly fee. Consider searching for and signing up for a credit card with solid cash back or reward points, and no annual fee. Our constantly updated credit card deals comparison page is a great place to start.

2. Double-check the bank’s fine print and call customer service to make sure you will not be charged the $5 debit card fee as long as you stop using the card to make purchases. If they say the fee is in place regardless, immediately ask to have your debit card cancelled. Also tell the bank you plan to move your business elsewhere — if enough people voice their anger over this new policy, they might even backpedal and reverse this stupidity.  

Look, I’m a credit card guy — I use credit almost exclusively in my personal life, especially when travelling, and I find it to be a superior method of payment when compared to debit cards or using cash. I like the added security and convenience of accessing a credit line, rather than allowing random merchants access to my checking account.

With that said, there are times when even I will use my debit card to pay for something, and the new debit card fee outrages me. You should not need to PAY your bank for the ability to spend your own money. They should be paying YOU, if anything, for the privilege of your business — banks used to do this. It was called interest. Unfortunately, most checking accounts today offer NO interest at all, or a pathetic 0.05%.

You shouldn’t tolerate a hefty fee that offers no tangible benefit in return.

— provided by Outlaw

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