BoA Puts The Kibosh On Free Checking Accounts For Low-Balance Customers

The Bank of America has reportedly done away with a free checking account that was popular among low-balance customers, forcing them to save more money with the national bank or face a monthly fee.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, all of the customers that still had eBanking accounts were moved to bank accounts that charge a $12 fee each month if they don’t have at least $250 directly deposited into the account or if they don’t maintain a daily balance of at least $1,500. Some eBanking customers were moved to the fee-based accounts back in 2015. More recently, some customers expressed outrage with Bank of America’s move, with a petition landing 45,000 signatures.

The account that Bank of America is eliminating was first introduced back in 2010, when the company was trying to lure customers to online banking. The account has no monthly fee, as long as the customer accesses statements online and doesn’t use a bank teller. If customers use those services, they would have to pay an $8.95 fee each month. The bank stopped offering the banking account in 2013 to new customers, but maintained it for those who already had it.

“For anyone who chooses us as their primary bank relationship, with a direct deposit of just $250 [per] month or $3,000 [per] year, they’ll get full access to all of our financial centers, ATMs, mobile and online banking,” a Bank of America spokeswoman told Reuters. “That’s a great value, and our client satisfaction scores are at all-time highs.”

The Wall Street Journal noted that under CEO Brian Moynihan, the company has overhauled its consumer business by lowering the number of products and branches it offers, and by going after accounts in cities that are more lucrative. As a result, the report noted, the bank’s consumer business is now more profitable.