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Wells Fargo announced that it would start charging a $3 monthly fee for some customers to use their debit card.

Customers in Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington were notified by mail and can expect to be a part of this test starting October 14. The monthly fee will be charged anytime the card is used to make a purchase, whether you press ‘credit’ or ‘debit’ on the PIN padapplies if a purchase is made with the debit card each month. The fee will not be charged if a customer uses their debit card solely at a Wells Fargo ATM or in-branch.


Wells Fargo Signage (Courtesy moneyblognewz on Flickr)

Wells Fargo joins Chase bank in this fee grab, which started testing a $5 monthly debit card fee in Wisconsin a while back. It’s all in anticipation of the reduction in the debit card swipe fee that banks earn from businesses when a customer uses their debit card. (Not to be confused with this new fee that banks will charge customers to use their debit card)

2 Minute Finance has covered this topic extensively (here and here) about what the swipe fee battle is and what it could mean for you. These changes are in addition to the elimination of debit card reward programs that most banks are already putting into effect.

It’s yet another shameless fee grab for banks. If they can’t make the money by charging businesses, they’ll gladly charge customers instead. ‘Gotta shake the money loose from somewhere,’ as their mantra seems to be as of late. While it’s understandable that banks need to make money, it’s questionable whether or not these fees are in the best interest of customers and if they’re reasonable based on the service provided.

The go-to advice from most personal finance experts would be to close your bank account at Wells Fargo and move to a credit union instead. Unfortunately, if the current trend continues, this fee might be the new norm in the entire banking industry.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation for any other changes and to see if Wells Fargo makes this change permanent and rolls it out nationwide.

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