Community banks may provide relief from debit fees - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Community banks may provide relief from debit fees

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YAKIMA, Wash- People across the country were outraged when Bank of America announced account holders will have to pay five dollars a month for debit card purchases.  But consumers don't have to take the change lying down.

One option is to consider going local.  The debit fees from Bank of America are just the latest way large banks are looking to re-coup money.  But many community banks don't work like the mega banks, and so you could see not only a more personalized experience, but also more money in your pocket.

The five dollar-a-month debit card usage fees already have some Bank of America customers closing accounts.

"We had some new accounts on Saturday, some of our branches are open on Saturday so several new members came in", says Debra Hickman, Vice President of Organizational Development at Solarity Credit Union.

Bank of America isn't the only mega-bank charging for debit purchases.  Wells Fargo and Chase are testing the fees in some areas.

Randy Gress has a business account with Wells Fargo but maybe not for long.

"I'll probably be shopping for a place to bring my business accounts", says Gress.

He's considering Solarity Credit Union, a newly formed from the merger of Yakima Valley and Catholic Credit Unions.

It's just one of the local banking options where big-bank customers can find refuge from not just debit card fees, but many other a-la-carte banking fees that are becoming more and more common.

"We're not for profit and we're member owned so there's no stockholders out there making money on your money like a bank is set up", explains Hickman.

While local banks and credit unions can boast things like more personal attention, some customers look for the convenience of being able to get cash from ATMS all over the country. But ATMS aren't the only way to get cash, especially if using your debit card is free.

"Go to a grocery store you can get a pack of gum and get $20 cash with that.  So you don't always have to have the accessibility of an ATM", says Hickman.

If you are looking to take your banking elsewhere, even when looking at a local credit union or bank.  Check their fees for debit card use, over drafts, and for not keeping a minimum account balance. 

People across the country were outraged when Bank of America announced account holders will have to pay five dollars a month for debit card purchases.

One option is to consider going local.  The debit fees from Bank of America are just the latest way large banks are looking to re-coup money.  But many community banks don't work like the mega banks, and so you could see not only a more personalized experience, but also more money in your pocket.

The five dollar-a-month debit card usage fees already have some Bank of America customers closing accounts.

"We had some new accounts on Saturday, some of our branches are open on Saturday so several new members came in", says Debra Hickman, Vice President of Organizational Development at Solarity Credit Union.

Bank of America isn't the only mega-bank charging for debit purchases.  Wells Fargo and Chase are testing the fees in some areas.

Randy Gress has a business account with Wells Fargo but maybe not for long.

"I'll probably be shopping for a place to bring my business accounts", says Gress.

He's considering Solarity Credit Union, a newly formed from the merger of Yakima Valley and Catholic Credit Unions.

It's just one of the local banking options where big-bank customers can find refuge from not just debit card fees, but many other a-la-carte banking fees that are becoming more and more common.

"We're not for profit and we're member owned so there's no stockholders out there making money on your money like a bank is set up", explains Hickman.

While local banks and credit unions can boast things like more personal attention, some customers look for the convenience of being able to get cash from ATMS all over the country. But ATMS aren't the only way to get cash, especially if using your debit card is free.

"Go to a grocery store you can get a pack of gum and get $20 cash with that.  So you don't always have to have the accessibility of an ATM", says Hickman.

If you are looking to take your banking elsewhere, even when looking at a local credit union or bank.  Check their fees for debit card use, over drafts, and for not keeping a minimum account balance.

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