Bank of America (BAC) may be taking steps to avoid getting slammed yet again over a fee hike.
The nation’s second-biggest bank by assets has decided to postpone until late next year plans to boost charges on checking accounts that could have hit 10 million customers this month, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The bank’s decision reportedly comes amid a review of its retail banking business that aims to trim losses on the roughly one-fifth of customers who keep lower balances compared with most customers and who refrain from using credit cards and other products that generate fees.
Such customers cost B of A about $200 a year each, the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the bank’s business.
A spokeswoman for B of A did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Like its biggest rivals, B of A has spent much of the past year and a half trying to figure out how to revamp prices on its products as new regulations tamp down checking account revenues. The company drew the ire of consumers and public officials alike a year ago, after trying to charge customers to use their debit cards. In March, the bank tried again to lift checking account fees.
A provision of the Dodd-Frank Act caps fees banks can collect from merchants when consumers pay with their debit cards. The so-called Durbin Amendment went into effect in Oct. 2011 and squeezed margins on checking accounts, which cost banks roughly $350 a year to maintain but only net about $270 in annual revenue.
Checking account fees have continued to climb since then. To avoid a monthly fee, customers must maintain an average balance of $723 in their non-interest checking accounts, up 23% from 2011 and the highest balance in 15 years, according to a survey in Sept. by Bankrate.com.