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Another debit fee canceled

By David McMillin ·
Monday, October 31, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

In another victory for account holders, one more of America's biggest banks has canceled its plans to charge for debit card use.

Atlanta-based SunTrust announced that it no longer plans to charge a monthly fee for using a check card. If you're a SunTrust checking account holder, here's some additional good news: You can expect to see a full refund of any previous charges from the debit fee program.

In a statement issued by Brad Dinsmore, Consumer Banking and Private Wealth Management executive at SunTrust, it's obvious the bank heard its customers loud and clear.

We believe banking is a relationship business and recognize the importance of responding to client preferences. We've listened to our clients' feedback, and will provide the convenience and security of check cards at no additional charge as part of all of our checking accounts.

Folks, this is public relations hard at work. When the bank decided to implement these new charges earlier this year, there was no press release. Instead, these changes to account terms were quietly announced via a fee schedule in a mailing to the bank's customers -- a mailing that I'm sure many account holders did not bother to read thoroughly.

Regardless of the bank's affirmation of its belief that "banking is a relationship business," this is good to see. Now, we're all waiting on another big potential retreat: Bank of America. Following the JPMorgan Chase cancellation of its debit card fee test, my coblogger, Claes Bell, covered new speculation that BofA may provide options for checking account holders to avoid its monthly debit fee. There is no confirmation yet, but I'll be surprised if BofA simply stays the course as its customers close accounts and rip the financial giant for its handling of the situation.

What do you think? Will SunTrust's announcement help lead the way to an industry-wide reversal of charging for debit card use? Or will some members of the banking industry turn a deaf ear to account holder outrage?

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Ralph Henson
November 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm

These banks are too big to fail, congress has proved that. Since we think so highly of them, we should withdraw all our mony from them and if we need to put it someplace, use a credit union or a local bank where you know the staff and their policies.
Banks use your money to make money and they will not offer you anything in return, (0.25%) for letting them use your money to line their pockets. See if you can get a contract to get half of everything they make off your money. I am not holding my breath.

November 01, 2011 at 9:17 am

If you really believe banking is a relationship business, you will be taken for a ride. If you simply give one bank all of your business, you are setting yourself up for being taken advantage of.

If you as a consumer want the best values, you have to do your banking "a la cart". Shop for each product (checking, savings, mortgage, etc.) and don't be afraid to fire your bank when they "change terms". The landscape is always changing, so you need to be nimble.

November 01, 2011 at 7:42 am

The BoA ripple effect.