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Consumers unhappy with card fees

A new report has highlighted consumers’ dissatisfaction with new bank fees that are being implemented to recoup profits that banks will lose once the Durbin Amendment comes into effect.

The Debit Report, a syndicated publication by the Auriemma Consulting Group, showed that less than 10 percent of debit card holders in June paid a fee for their debit or checking account. In addition, 22 percent of consumers surveyed had a minimum balance requirement.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo and many other large banks have already begun testing fees for cards.

"Banks are all watching each other because there is a first-mover disadvantage in this case," Ed Lawrence, the director of the debit marketing roundtable at ACG, said. "The first-movers to institute debit/checking fees in a given market will experience the most scrutiny and possible attrition, along with negative press; as others follow, customers will have fewer places to move to."

Lawrence said most consumers will reluctantly continue to use debit cards, but a portion of older consumers will be content going back to ATM-only cards.

The Debit Report indicated that most consumers prefer an elimination of rewards programs instead of having to pay new fees.

A majority of people surveyed said that their debit card had rewards for usage and that they spend $551 per month on them, compared to $370 for non-reward cardholders.

"Correlation is not causation and higher-spending customers are more likely to acquire a rewards card,” Dr. Patricia Sahm, a managing director at ACG, said. “Nonetheless, it raises the question of where that incremental spend will go if debit rewards are eliminated."

Sahm also said that it makes sense for consumers who have credit cards with rewards to use their credit cards and pay the full balance every month.

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