Survey: 30% Of Consumers Would Leave Bank Over Debit Card Fees

With financial institutions like SunTrust and Bank of America implementing fees for using debit cards to make purchases — and a number of other banks doing regional tests on similar fees — a new survey says that nearly one out of three American consumers would leave their bank if it introduced such a fee.

In addition to the 30% who would leave their banks over these fees, the survey, undertaken by the Research Intelligence Group found that around 43% of respondents would switch to paying with cash or credit card to avoid the fee, while 13% would pay the fee if it was “reasonable.”

From Bloomberg:

Low- to middle-income consumers are more likely to pay the fees, according to the survey. About 22 percent of those consumers, defined as those households earning $35,000 to $49,000 a year, would be willing to pay the fee, compared with 14 percent of consumers whose households earn $100,000 or more.

Just a reminder that our friends at Consumers Union are still looking for people to share their stories of switching banks.

Consumers Say They’ll Switch Banks Over Debit Fees, Study Finds [Bloomberg]


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  1. Sian says:

    It’s a lot easier to say yes on a survey than actually go through with it. It’s a lot of trouble to change banks. It’s like all those people who say ‘I’m going to move to Canada if X gets elected president’ but they’re still here.

    • kiltman says:

      Switching a bank is alot easier than moving to Canada, and I am from Canada! Switching banks is easier if you give yourself time to do it properly, also using Quicken or MSMoney helps as it allows you to take a look at how you are paying everything, and then make the necessary changes.

      • regis-s says:

        Be that as it may, what people claim they’d do in a survey often isn’t what they’d actually do in reality.

        I doubt that the average person uses Quicken or MSMoney. I also doubt that they’re going to start just because of this.

    • Labratt21 says:

      The NY Times interviewed some guy who said he was sick of the bank fees and rabble-rabble-rablble, but wasn’t going to switch because he was “overwhelmed” at the process of re-doing all of his online banking. So, while he’s pissed….he’s not that pissed.

  2. Cat says:

    Low- to middle-income consumers are more likely to pay the fees, according to the survey. About 22 percent of those consumers, defined as those households earning $35,000 to $49,000 a year, would be willing to pay the fee, compared with 14 percent of consumers whose households earn $100,000 or more.

    Low income consumers tend to be financially irresponsible and/ or ignorant?

    • milkcake says:

      No wonder they are poor.

    • Tyanna says:

      Lower income consumers often feel they don’t have a choice. When you hear of all major banks charging a fee, you eventually feel it’s inevitable, and accept it.

      Also, they probably don’t meet the guidelines at many banks to get their account for a reduced cost (does free even exist any more?), so they can stay and pay fees or go and pay fees. Why go through the extra work if you are still going to end up paying in the end?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I think when there are multiple generations of poverty in one family, there is risk of a very defeatist attitude. That it’s all “inevitable” and nothing can change is crazy talk, but a lot of them can’t seem to shake it. Their parents were poor, they’re poor, and they probably can’t help but think that their children will be poor as well.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          If you’re poor, you generally don’t have *any* of the connections or resources necessary to pull yourself out of it.

          Certainly, some people get lucky. If you live in or near a large “business” city, there’s always a chance that someone will take notice or introduce you to the people you need to know in order to accomplish something.

          People like to cite Jobs and Buffett as “rags-to-riches” stories, but the fact of the matter is that it is outright impossible for anyone today, in the USA, to do what they did. Buffett has actually come right out and said that there’s no way he would be able to achieve the same success now.

          There are still plenty of entrepreneurs, but now they’re the “I dropped out of MIT during my fourth degree” variety, not “I didn’t have a hope of paying for college.”

    • SmokeyBacon says:

      And there is always that whole living paycheck to paycheck thing – because it would take time to get things switched over they may not be able to afford switching banks. I have considered switching banks (though right now they don’t seem so bad since they haven’t added a bunch of stupid fees so far) but just can’t afford to do it too quickly – I would need to have a few paychecks worth of cash in my account while the switch happens (direct deposit takes time to get switched) and while I try to get the new account set up for autopayments.

      My guess is that is the reason for at least some people out there not switching banks when they start to charge stupid fees, even if they don’t think the fees are fair.

      • ARP says:

        I think this is a big issue. You essentially need to have a few months of salary in your account, so that you can afford to pay bills from your old account while you set up direct deposit with your new account and switch over any bills that are direct withdrawal (I know, you should never do this, etc.).

    • smo0 says:

      That’s the way I see it.

      Something my mother told me when I was young has always stuck.

      The wealthy people reuse their aluminum foil.

      I’ll be damned if I don’t think about that every time I rip off a sheet.

      Basically, it means people who are more frugal with their funds, who don’t waste or spend needlessly on useless shit end up coming out ahead – she’s right.

      I’ve seen people who make

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Low-income consumers don’t have a choice. They’re less likely to own a computer, so on-line banking is out, and they’re less likely to be able to afford the 20 mile trip to a no-fee ATM from a local bank or credit union.

      Seriously, I’m not sure why you entitled little twats seem to think that you’re better than the poor. You bitch and moan about people with low incomes, then you bitch and moan about people protesting the fact that it is often not possible to get a decent wage.

  3. Rebecca K-S says:

    I don’t even use my debit card, and I’d still switch if I were with a bank that instituted this.

  4. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    And only about 10% of those would actually do it.

  5. paperdragon says:

    My bank instituted a fee, but I’m not leaving or paying the fee. I can still use my debit card free at the ATM, and I use a credit card for purchases.

  6. CosmosHuman says:

    If my bank (PNC) started charging a fee for debit cards or their checking accts, I’d switch. But the CU near to me charges for their checking. They have fees…Cardinal Community CU in Mentor, OH. I could join the local firefighters union since I live in the same county as a second choice; they have free checking and free debit cards. There are several CU in my area, but only a small number open to the general public (have to reside in the same county). I was also thinking about a brokerage firm as they have no fees, but I’d have to deal with the ATM rebate allowance.

    PNC is very close to me, within walking distance. It is a bit of a hassle to switch banks, but I’d save money in the long run.

  7. sweetgreenthing says:

    I’m doing it today :) I’ve spent the last week making sure I have everything in order to make the switch as painless as possible. Heck, even if it was pretty painful, it’s not as painful as being repeatedly F’d in the A by BofA.

  8. duffman13 says:

    Credit union or USAA. End of discussion.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe USAA has opened up their banking to regular people now, but you still can’t get insurance and some other services.

    USAA/NavyFCU customer, loving my financial institution setup

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      Yes, USAA only requires you to be a member of the military to get auto insurance with them. All the banking and mortgage services are available regardless of military status.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        From what I’ve heard, USAA treats non-family civilians like shit (read: Like every other bank). Everything from extended deposit holds to freezing accounts.

    • do-it-myself says:

      I have those two as well, but I also need a local bank I can physically walk into on the occasion that I need to deposit a check that has VOID in the watermark when scanned. I don’t use the debit card from that bank, but I also didn’t always have $500+ for the checking account to avoid the “maintenance” fee. I dropped them and joined the credit union down the street (and get an extra $100 to boot!).

      • longfeltwant says:

        I use USAA bank-by-mail. They send me prepaid envelopes and I send them checks. That only works for people like me, though, who deal with few checks and don’t “need the money right away”. But if that describes you, too, then I promise bank-by-mail is even MORE convenient than going to a teller.

      • JF says:

        Why can’t you do the online deposit and mail the check to NFCU?

        • aloria says:

          Where does one go to get rolls of quarters for their apartment complex’s laundry machines if they don’t have a local branch?

    • JF says:

      I can’t express enough how much I love NFCU. I have a personal and business account with them. I just mail my checks to the bank to deposit them (for my business account) or I can deposit them online and mail them in with their prepaid envelopes. (They also just got that paperless deposit thing too). I have tons of ATMs within 1 mile of my house in network where I can get cash with no fees (any Publix store has them where I live).

      I have yet to come up against anything I need to do with them that requires me to go to a branch. If it came to that, I do have one about 40 min from the house.

  9. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Just wait until we all start writing checks to avoid the whole debit card charge. The banks will institute a per check fee at that point. Just watch.

  10. jjonathany says:

    I switched from BoA to a CU last week, mainly because of the announcement of this fee. I’m getting a better interest rate on my new *checking* than I was on my old *savings* account (I have a new savings account too). Full story, I actually created an account with a CU and was ready to switch a couple of years ago but their online banking was so bad I ended up keeping the BoA account. So, I was inclined to do it anyway. My new account is with the same CU–their online system is now updated and much improved. My BoA account is closed.

  11. Jawaka says:

    Alternate headline: 70% of Consumers Would Pay $5 Debt Card Fee and Not Leave Their Banks.

    • apupnamedshamus says:

      Or another alternate headline:
      100% Of Customers That Cost Banks Money As Customers Leave Bank. Bankers Rejoice.

      • dolemite says:

        How does my keeping 5k, 10k, etc in their bank cost them money? They don’t get *any* money from those debit card transactions and online transactions I perform?

  12. crispyduck13 says:

    30% would switch banks, 43% would stay but give a virtual middle finger by opting out of a debit card (good luck)…

    This is only further evidence that at least 25% of Americans are complete idiots.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Yes, absolutely, there’s no way that someone could believe that the hassle of switching banks outstripped the pain of paying the feel. Anybody who came to that conclusion about the value of his or her time is clearly just an idiot.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        There are many contributing factors that lead to that label. I am simply of the opinion that at least 25% of our population are f*cking idiots. This survey is just “further evidence” that my opinion is based in fact.

        You, and everyone else who “values their time” can go ahead and keep paying extra to use your own money. Americans have the right to bank wherever they choose, and they also have the right to call people idiots.

        Feel free to call me an idiot if it makes you feel better.

  13. Malik says:

    Tests see if I have this straight, you leave a large bank to avoid a $5 Debit card fee.

    Then, when you are at a small bank, you get hit with a $6 ATM fee anytime you use a rival’s ATM (since your bamk is so small, you can’t find an ATM of your own)

    Makes sense

    • KillerBee says:

      I’d take that deal. I use my debit card all the time, and use an ATM for a cash withdrawal maybe 3-4 times a year. I still come out ahead.

    • ponycyndi says:

      Works for me. I never use ATMs anyway. Cash back FTW!

    • FyreGoddess says:

      That’s why people recommend credit unions.

      Now, granted, the more I hear about credit unions around the country, the more convinced I am that my area is spoiled by 3-5 available CUs, none of which are actively ripping people off, so maybe we’re the exception and not the rule, but the largest local CU (and the one I use) not only has a large number of ATMs and a contract with the area’s Brugger’s locations, but they have recently partnered with one of the ATM companies and waive the CU fees entirely, which allows me to find an ATM in any area that has the right logo and avoid paying much of the fees in small businesses.

      Sure, I still have to pay the fee for that specific ATM, but a fee of 95 cents and no additional charges is a heckuva lot nicer than paying $3+ at an ATM from a big name bank.

      • FyreGoddess says:

        “much of the fees in small businesses.”

        more of the fees than just to the small businesses.

        Edit function? Please?

  14. KillerBee says:

    That’s too bad. Even if all of the 30% actually did switch banks, that’s probably not enough to convince banks to change their behavior and think twice about imposing those fees.

  15. dolemite says:

    I’m just waiting for Wells Fargo to tell me there is now “some fee” associated with my accounts, and then I’ll switch over to the CU I’m a member of. It might not be instant, as I’ll have a lot of online accounts to move, but it’ll happen. It’s bad enough my savings is paying about 1/10 of 1% in interest, but they want to start charging people $5, $10, $20 a month to have accounts? Depending on how much you keep in there, that could be 2, 5, 10, 20% negative interest.

  16. atthec44 says:

    I was led to believe that number would be closer to 99%.

  17. Traveller says:

    I am waiting to see if this is all talk and no action. Some recent examples of where what people said is not what they do:

    Facebook – Remember leaving over privacy, haven’t seen a big exodus to date.
    Walmart aisles – Walmart surveyed customers and found they wanted less cluttered aisles. They cut down the clutter and sales tanked, the exec got fired and the clutter is back.
    Boycott Disney – While I agree that one way to get your voice heard is to boycott, most Christians that opposed the Disney policies about same sex partners, still found a trip to Disneyworld more compelling than using a boycott to get their message across.
    OWS – How many OWS members are sitting there using Dells, HPs, AT&T/Verizon wireless products, buying goods and services from some of the companies with the most egregious violations of what they are denouncing.

  18. kethryvis says:

    i will be swapping next month. i have one last direct debit payment to make on a debt collection debt, so it’s a great time to hop banks to ensure they don’t take any more payments than i’ve authorized from them. (no hate, i made the deal with them long before i realized what a bad idea that was.) I’m with BofA now, and moving to one of the local credit unions. Here, pretty much all of them belong to a co-op, which means i can use any ATM in the co-op just like my own home ATM; deposit and withdrawl. That includes ATMs in all the local 7-11’s as well as they are on the co-op network. i’ve had it with the fees, and i’m not getting anything worth the extra fees for being a customer of BofA. i’ll be glad to be gone.

  19. veronykah says:

    I was thinking about these fees the other day and wondered if they will give you an account WITHOUT a debit card. My chase account requires me to use mine 5x a month to qualify for free checking. I’d rather not even have one since I pay cash or use my amex for everything,,,

  20. chemmy says:

    Meh I’d just start writing checks. For everything.

  21. AllanG54 says:

    I’m with BoA and have a debit card but I’ve never used it for anything but getting cash out of the ATM. If I was going to be charged that fee I’d be out of there in a minute. But, the teller I spoke with said there would probably be exemptions for people who keep a decent balance in their accounts and I’m sure I’d be over that amount.

  22. aloria says:

    So… what are the good CUs in the NYC area? I need one with a local branch; online banks are great most of the time, but I still need some place I can get rolls of quarters to use my building’s laundry machines, and to deposit physical checks I can’t risk getting lost in the mail.

  23. John says:

    Basic financial sense is to not use a debit card due to lack of protections and due to the habit of gas stations, etc., of putting a hold. Instead, a credit card that you simply pay off each month would be EXACTLY like a debit card EXCEPT that it would give quite a bit more flexibility and protection.

    With this, the opinions of people who use a debit card are probably not well thought out enough for me to care about; so go ahead you wise 30% … do what you gotta do.

    • jjonathany says:

      I use a debit card. I take out cash once a week as it helps me keep to a budget. Still, it is nice to have the option of using the debit card, and occasionally I do. I’m careful not to use my card at gas stations or anywhere that seems at all sketchy, and I’ve very very rarely experienced merchants putting holds on my account. So–as long as there is no monthly fee–I fail to see much downside to using a debit card instead of a CC. There are benefits and costs to both; and, there are both smart and stupid people who use each, too.

  24. smo0 says:

    I honestly wish this number was higher – considering nearly half of the country is around the poverty income line or lower – NOVEMBER 5TH, PEOPLE! LET’S DO THIS!!

  25. OutThere says:

    I can assure you that I will be switching if/when Wells Fargo ever gets around to charging the fee in South Carolina. They’ve done nothing but ruin the Wachovia customer experience since they took over. Thankfully, I don’t have any complex services set up, just checking and savings, and my money will be G-O-N-E just as soon as they charge me a $0.01 for my debit card.

  26. Darkneuro says:

    I’m a Regions user, and they have instituted the fee for using debit. I’ve changed my habits, I’m using cash…but only until I get a day off during the week I can spend chasing accounts around (I’m planning on doing it online).

  27. DragonThermo says:

    I left my last bank, a “credit union” no less, because of un-credit-union-y policies including extremely high minimum balance to avoid monthly fees.

    My current bank is heading in that direction. They’ve discontinued all rewards-related programs and started charging $5/mo for paper statements. They have instituted a minimum balance requirement, but it is low enough that it doesn’t affect me yet. Needless to say, I’m turning toward the door. As long as I can avoid fees, I’ll stay with them. If they, like BoA, institute a fee that can’t be avoided easily, I’ll find another bank.

  28. Foil says:

    I just recently switched over to a credit union from my bank of three years just because I see the fees coming soon.

  29. Joseph S Ragman says:

    You bet your ass I would leave … I just closed a checking account I’ve had for fifteen years because I refuse to pay a two-dollar Paper Statement Fee … it’s ridiculous for them to charge that much when it costs less than forty cents to prepare and mail it. I’m looking at YOU, Key Bank.

  30. TECharleston says:

    “Low- to middle-income consumers are more likely to pay the fees, according to the survey. About 22 percent of those consumers, defined as those households earning $35,000 to $49,000 a year, would be willing to pay the fee, compared with 14 percent of consumers whose households earn $100,000 or more.”

    This statement explains better than anything I have ever seen why the poor stay poor, and the rich stay rich. It seems most of the middle class, and a lot of poor people simply don’t have the spine to object to these ridiculous fees charged by banks. Whatever happened to the good old days where the banks made money the old fashioned way? You know, by lending money and charging a reasonable rate of interest. Now they not only want to take your bank deposits gratis, but they want to charge you excessive fees for using your own money. Last month Bank of America charged me $40.00 in fees for an account that had less than $2,000 in it. I closed my account. I wish everyone would do likewise. Just go to the bank, be courteous, tell them you object to their fee gouging, that you do not see the way they do business as socially responsible, and you want to take your money somewhere else. Bank of America during the last quarter posted more that 6 Billion Dollars in profits, yet the bank says it needs to charge the average guy another 5 bucks a month for a debit card; then, while making 6 Billion Dollars it decides to lay off 30,000 employees during our nations major unemployment crisis. Shame, shame, shame. If nobody in this country has a job, who does Bank of America expect to put money in its bank? And, all this after our tax dollars bailed them out.