Chase drops plans for debit card fees … FOR NOW

You have to read all the fine print with Chase and their announcement that after testing debit card fees in two markets since February, they won’t be adding them, according to the Wall Street Journal (Big Banks Blink on New Card Fees, 10/28/11).  However, read the article in detail and it becomes clear that they are likely punting on this plan only due to the large amount of negative publicity that Bank of American has been receiving for the $5 monthly debit card fee it announced recently.

J.P. Morgan joins U.S. Bancorp, Citigroup Inc., PNC Financial Services Group Inc., KeyCorp and other large banks that have said in recent days that they won’t impose monthly fees on debit cards. None of those banks said they made their decisions because of the outcry over Bank of America’s fees.

“We looked at all options and quickly decided it didn’t fit with our overall strategy,” said David Bowen, who runs the consumer-product business at Cleveland-based Key, which ranks among the 20 largest banks in the country.

Sounds good, right, they made a logical decision that it wasn’t in the best interest of the bank or its customers.  But read on.

Chase was one of the first big banks to explore monthly fees on debit cards. The bank began testing monthly fees of $3 in Wisconsin and Georgia in February. Those tests are scheduled to end in mid-November and won’t be renewed or expanded for now, said the person familiar with the bank’s plans.

For now.  Clearly they are keeping this option open and the timing makes it highly unlikely it ISN’T in response to the negative publicity.

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