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Consumers say monthly debit card fees would drive them away

A new poll has revealed that 61 percent of debit card holders said that if they were charged a $3 monthly fee for their debit card, they would find another way to pay.

The recently conducted Associated Press-GfK poll was released at a time when banks are showing signs that higher costs for debit cards could be on the way because of the effects of the Durbin Amendment, according to NWITimes.com.

Consumers are already feeling the fallout of higher bank fees since the Federal Reserve released its new rule that limits the revenue banks can collect from retailers.

Chase, PNC Bank and Wells Fargo have cut back their debit rewards programs in efforts to recoup lost revenue. Many other banks are also ending free checking accounts, NWITimes.com reports.

Chase is currently testing a $3 monthly fee for new debit card accounts in northern Wisconsin. It is also testing a $15 monthly fee on basic checking accounts in Atlanta.

The poll showed that if a fee for debit card accounts reached $5, 66 percent of cardholders would quit using their debit cards, and if the fee reached $7, 81 percent of cardholders would find another way to make purchases.

Of the poll respondents who said they would quit using debit cards if faced with such fees, more said they'd pay with cash – 53 percent – or check – 42 percent – rather than another form of plastic, according to NWITimes.com.

Twenty-two percent said that they would switch to credit cards and 12 percent would switch to a prepaid spending card.

The Fed’s new regulations were aimed to protect cardholders and enforce greater transparency on billing practices.

In addition to the debit card fees provision in the Fed’s new rule, cardholders will get a 45 day notice before rates are hiked and card issuers will not be allowed to raise rates on existing balances.

Also included in the rule is a cap of $25 per violation for late payments. Banks are still able to hike interest rates on purchases or default interest rates that result in late payments, NWITimes.com reports.

While 42 percent of respondents said the fees and penalties on their cards are unfair, 78 percent of poll respondents said they plan to stick with their cards, despite their discontent with high rates and fees.

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