Wells Fargo Bank Charging Monthly Debit Card Use Fees

30 Sep Wells Fargo Bank Charging Monthly Debit Card Use Fees

Wildfires devastated New Mexico this summer.

New Mexico had its largest wildfire in its history this summer — the Las Conchas fire burned 156,593 acres (244.6 square miles) not far from where I live.

To me, the continuing harsh economic times also continue to consume ground people once took for granted. In my state, New Mexico, starting on October 14, 2011, Wells Fargo bank will charge a $3.00 Debit Card Activity Fee each month a checking account holder makes purchases or payments using any card linked to that account. The notice letter I got from Wells Fargo noted that retailers may also charge a fee for purchases. The bank is testing the new program (of fees) in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Georgia, too, and is expected to eventually expand to all states.

It doesn’t affect me personally as I simply do not use debit cards (or ATM machines). I’m in the process of moving my bank accounts away from Wells Fargo any way, though, because they also started a new program, effective about 2 weeks ago, of monthly checking account fees for accounts that never required them before. It doesn’t seem right to me, so I found another bank, even closer and more convenient to me, which both charges me no checking account fees and pays interest (admittedly, a very small amount, but Wells Fargo paid no interest).

But many people do use debit cards, and they may not have opened that letter from Wells Fargo (I admit I sometimes do not open the “important bank [or credit card] information within” letters which seem to tell me some new term I have no power over). They may find the new debit card use fee on their checking account statement — I wonder if some will be so close to their balance that it causes a check to bounce? And then an additional fee will be accessed without immediate notice and some of their own checks may bounce. (I know this because a client’s payment check bounced recently. I happen to check my account balances online relatively frequently so I saw what had happened before the letter came in the mail informing me of the check that did not deposit and the charge to me for the check that did not deposit. Good thing — the client’s payment check was large enough that it did bring my working account balance down at that point. But I did catch it in time.) And then more fees for their own bounced checks.

I wonder if more people will return to using cash?

For more, read:

Cash Makes You Feel Good — No, Really!, by Wendell Sherk, Missouri Bankruptcy Attorney, and

Banks Threaten To Increase Debit Card Fees, by Andy Miofsky, Illimois Bankruptcy Attorney

New Mexico bankruptcy lawyer Gini Nelson focuses her law practice in bankruptcy and bankruptcy avoidance advising and representing individual consumers and small business owners in these challenging economic times. Her practice also includes family law and the implications and impact of bankruptcy in family law.


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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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