Chase won't charge debit card fee

Credit card being swiped through a card reader

After eight months of testing, JPMorgan Chase is pulling the plug on monthly debit card fees.

The New York-based bank dipped its toe in the water earlier this year, testing a $3 monthly fee for debit card usage in northern Wisconsin and Georgia.

The test also included a $5 monthly charge for online bill pay.

When the pilot program expires next month, it won’t be renewed or expanded, a person familiar with the bank’s plans says.

Chase is abandoning its debit fee plan as Bank of America faces a backlash from customers over its plan to charge a $5 monthly fee for using its debit card to make purchases.

The person familiar with Chase’s decision says it wasn’t based on the negative reaction to Bank of America's plans, but because customers prefer Chase’s Total Checking account, which doesn’t directly charge for debit cards and online bill pay.

This account remains fee-free if customers have direct deposits totaling $500 a month, a $1,500 minimum daily balance or an average $5,000 daily balance in linked deposit or investment accounts. Otherwise, Chase will charge a $12 monthly service fee.

Besides Bank of America, Wells Fargo, SunTrust and Regions Bank are or plan to implement debit card fees in response to regulations capping how much they can charge retailers in so-called swipe fees when a cardholder uses a debit card to make a purchase.

Such moves have prompted national Bank Transfer Day on Nov. 5, with consumers urged to make the switch from big banks to community banks or credit unions.

Many smaller financial institutions are riding the wave, touting their fee-free checking accounts and free debit cards.

We've written about several of those offers, including:

Unlike Chase, many of the best free checking offers don't have monthly balance or direct deposit requirements.

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