Saying it was responding to "customer feedback and input," Bank of America said it has made on-line account access free to many of its home banking customers.
Basic viewing of account information and transfers between accounts are free to subscribers of the service, marketed under the name HomeBanking, said Michael A. DeVico, head of the BankAmerica Corp. unit's interactive banking division.
"HomeBanking customers who want both on-line account access and the convenience of on-line bill paying can select our bill payment option at a reduced monthly fee, or obtain that service free with selected checking account packages," Mr. DeVico said.
With the bill payment option, the monthly fee was reduced by 55 cents, to $5.95, but it will be waived for customers who use the Versatel checking account package with direct deposit of payroll, the Prima checking account, or MasterCard Relationship Account.
BankAmerica announced a related enhancement to its Internet banking service: access to Visa and MasterCard credit card accounts.
The emphasis on free account access with a bill-payment fee is in line with the pricing structures of other major banks, many of which retreated from higher monthly fees because of resistance from customers accustomed to other types of free Internet services.
"No service has ever been successful at charging," said Edward Neumann, an electronic banking consultant at Dove Associates in Washington. "No bank that has charged more than $5 to $7 a month has been able to get any semblance of market penetration."