I hate to say I told you so about the latest debacle with Bank of America charging a $5 monthly fee for using your debit card…but I told you so!
Months ago, I reported that the big banks were going to impose a variety of fees to make up lost revenue because they run their operations very poorly.
So it was no surprise to me when Bank of America announced a $60 annual fee beginning in 2012 for people to use their cards. But judging by the response — which has basically been public outcry from coast to coast — it seems like it took just about everybody else by surprise.
I watched as Fox Business Network anchor Gerri Willis theatrically cut up her Bank of America card on air. Then I’ve seen headlines in papers saying “Let Them Eat Plastic,” and everyone else is throwing around words like “animosity” and “outrage” in their headlines.
The truth is Bank of America can do whatever they wish because it’s a free country. If you choose to do business with big banks, even if they’ve been good to you until today, the time will come when they’ll burn you.
There are so many institutions that let you use a debit card without charging you a fee. These include USAA, credit unions, online banks and small local community banks.
But the best takeaway of all from this is that, as my friend Michelle Singletary writes in her syndicated column, “Sometimes, cash is king.”
When you use a debit card, you can’t actually sense that your cash is thinning out. By using cash, though, you do get that sense. The best revenge is to handle your money better. If a $60 annual fee convinces you to give the big banks the heave-ho, then good. But you may decide that it’s time to kick that the piece of trash fake Visa or MasterCard to the curb altogether.