Reader Gary used his Bank of America credit card to pay $2 on a parking meter in Washington, DC. Bank of America treated it as a cash advance and slapped him with a $10 fee, as well as a higher APR. When Gary called to complain, he learned that it wasn’t an error: Bank of America has started treating payments to parking meters as cash advances and may even treat all payments to government entities as cash advances.
For the unfamiliar, multispace meters, also called “Pay and Display” machines, are a central machine where drivers can purchase time on a particular space or print out a ticket to display on their dashboards; most machines accept bills and credit/debit cards, allowing drivers without quarters to purchase parking. Obviously, a $10 service charge negates this convenience.
I recently used my bank of America credit card to pay for a multi-space parking meter in Washington DC. The type electronic meter common in urban areas for parking on the street and which accepts credit card payments. The charge for parking was $2. Bank of America treats this charge as a cash advance. They charged me a $10 cash advance fee on top. So now I will be thinking twice before using any bank of America cards. A transaction that should cost $2 can come out costing $12. Also, my card currently has a 0% promotional APR on purchases, but they put the $2 parking purchase in a separate category subject to a much higher interest rate.
Gary sent us a follow-up the next day:
I spoke to their CSR twice and I never really got an adequate explanation. I am attaching a copy of the email explanation they sent me. From what I understood, they now treat payments to government entities as quasi-cash transactions. During my last conversation the CSR explained that parking meters and payments of fines would now be treated as quasi-cash transactions subject to a minimum fee of $10. I think this is something new that they recently introduced and I have requested an updated version of my terms of service to get a better understanding of these fees.