Just because all of its banking friends were doing it didn’t necessarily mean Bank of America was going to start using a simple form to disclose checking fees, but fortunately for its customers, it has. Citibank and Chase both switched already to the one-page form that sets out basic fees for ATMs, overdraft charges and account closings, and now BofA is onboard as well. Finally.
The change comes a few months after Pew Charitable Trust said banks and credit card issuers weren’t doing enough to help consumers navigate the often murky waters of banking and finance, and had urged the big banks still holding on to complicated forms to switch.
Today the Chicago Tribune reports that Pew and Bank of America announced the bank would start using a single page instead of two to lay out terms for consumers.
“Our customers want clear and easily accessible information about their accounts so they can make the choices that are right for them,” said BofA consumer-products executive Susan Faulkner.
This was never a mandatory system, just something Pew and consumer advocates were pressuring the companies to do for their customers — oh yeah, and to perhaps avoid banks from being ordered to clarify how they outlined fee disclosures on accounts. The form changes were in part prompted by attempts by the banks to tack on some extra fees, like when Bank of America briefly attempted to institute a $5 monthly debit card fee last year. That didn’t go so well.
“Now, millions more Americans can obtain essential financial information in an easy-to-understand format,” said Susan Weinstock, director of Pew’s Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project. “We urge other financial institutions to follow suit.”
Now it’s your turn, Wells Fargo. Time to step it up.
UPDATE: To clarify — Wells Fargo is the only remaining bank of the nation’s four biggest that doesn’t use the suggested one-page fee summary. However, it did recently add an online guide to its fees for customers after taking into Pew’s suggestions into consideration.
BofA joins Chase, Citibank in simplifying checking disclosures [Chicago Tribune]