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No debit fees do not mean no fees, observers say

Just because large banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup have decided not to charge a fee for debit card purchases,doesn’t mean they won’t find other ways to incorporate new fees, according to some observers.

Citibank is currently planning to asses $15 or $20 a month fees for its customers who have account balances with less than $6,000 or $15,000, according to NAFCU.org. The bank will also implement ATM fees based on those amounts.

J.P. Morgan Chase stopped offering debit card rewards for almost all of its customers in July, according to Bloomberg.com. The bank was testing a $3 fee in Georgia and northern Wisconsin but recently announced that it was abandoning those plans.  

“No debit fee? In this case, I think the big banks are using smoke and mirrors with fees,” Karen Tyson, NAFCU’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, said, according to NAFCU.org. “But this is a great time for credit unions to remind consumers how they are different and to reach out to consumers and show them how they can get more for their dollar.”

Last year, 65 percent of checking accounts had zero monthly fees. In less than a year, that number is already down by more than half.

“We’re going to see more creative, stealth-like fees,” Dennis Moroney, a research director at TowerGroup, said, NAFCU.org reports.

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