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Megabanks add “free checking” requirements

205px-Bank_of_America.svgBank of America, Wells Fargo and Regions Bank have recently tacked additional requirements onto their “free checking” account programs.

Customers at Wells Fargo and Regions Bank could see a monthly fee if they do not maintain an average monthly balance of $1,500 or if they do not have at least $500 of direct deposits every month. The fees charged at both banks range between $7 and $10, the Aiken Standard reports.

Bank of America has similar requirements. Customers must have at least $250 direct deposited into the account each month, or they must maintain an average monthly balance of $1,500 or face a $12 monthly fee.

Wells Fargo also charges consumers a $2.50 transaction fee, in addition to any ATM vendor charges, every time they use their card at a non-Wells Fargo ATM, according to the Aiken Standard.

The Durbin Amendment, a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, capped the amount a bank can charge a merchant to process a debit transaction. Banks have seen falling revenue as a result of the measure and have sought to make up the losses by charging fees in other areas.

While many of America’s largest banks have opted to charge new fees, smaller community banks have not always decided to go the same route, the Aiken Standard reports.

The South Carolina-based Southern Bank and Trust and Vista Bank offer totally free checking with no minimum required balance. Both institutions offer debit cards with no additional fees, and Vista Bank refunds the customer for any ATM charges incurred through the use of a non-network ATM.

Other institutions like Security Federal and SRP Federal Credit Union require $100 deposits to open an account, but neither institution charges the customer for the use of a debit card. SRP Federal does require the customer to maintain a $200 balance for one business day or they will be charged a $5 monthly fee, according to the Aiken Standard.

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