Bank of America has had a brutal week and its CEO is feeling the heat especially. If you’re a Bank of America customer, you likely have become quite familiar with the new $5 debit card fee. It’s outraged the public and has become a focus for the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement that’s now spread to cities around the nation, including New York City, Seattle and BoA’s home base in North Carolina. But what does this mean for the future of debit cards? If you are a Bank of America customer, will you be making the move to a bank that’s not reveling in ways of offsetting the new restrictions set forth by the 2009 Credit Card Reform Act?
In what’s being called a “massive lobbying effort”, BoA officials, and namely its CEO Brian Moynihan, are on the defense. In an interview yesterday with Larry Kudlow, Moynihan came across as weak and confusing in his answers. The fact that Kudlow, whose interview appeared in Red County, seemed to be more of a cheerleader instead of an unbiased reporter certainly didn’t help. Kudlow opens with a softball question:
I appreciate it very much. You’re like a really famous guy now, and your bank has become incredibly famous because of $5. I’ve never seen anything like it. So I’m going to ask you — I want to begin with the $5 question. Adding five bucks a month to a BofA customer’s debit card account has caused the most massive political backlash I’ve ever seen.
Monyihan replies with a very vague answer that could be considered unresponsive at best:
Oh, we have started over the last three years with a basic vision for our company to be completely clear, transparent with our retail customers because as you watched the industry build up practices over the last 10, 15 years there were things that people didn’t like, overdraft fees. And so starting 2009 we started with mortgages with a simple page describing a mortgage, then we went to credit card, then we went to our checking accounts. Then we took the overdraft fee penalty fees, because remember the last great discussion in our industry was a $35 cup of coffee, and we got rid of that. And so in doing all that we are building a transparent clear view. So when you think about this fee, really, it’s a fee that’s–anybody that has a mortgage or card or significant savings, a biweekly paycheck or something will probably get out of this fee because they’re our main bank.
The interview, in its entirety, moved forward with this same evasive and aimless flow.
Slow Web Interaction
The website is going into its sixth day with massive problems for consumers. They can’t log into their accounts and the same message was appearing late Wednesday that explained to customers its website was working, albeit slowly.
BoA Credit Cards
Now, the complaints are rolling in about the BoA credit cards. Some of those complaints include customers who had impressive miles saved up, but who have had them pulled because it had canceled the customers’ credit cards.
Another customer said once the balance on her Bank of America credit card had been paid, the bank closed the account after a review of “current market conditions and changes in the customer’s income”.
If Bank of America is looking to restore its image and maintain its customers, the time is now and the first thing that should be done is to reach out to its customer base, some who have been loyal for decades. Offsetting the 2009 CARD act ramifications shouldn’t be done at the cost of their customers.
If you’re wondering what other offers are out there that would allow you to transfer your credit card balance, here are a few suggestions.
The Discover More credit card is one option many are choosing. They can transfer their balances while enjoying a 15 month 0% intro APR – and that applies to purchases, too. Further, the 5% cash back bonuses certainly feels a lot better than giving up $5 for use of a debit card. Those 5% categories rotate each calendar quarter, too, which allows you to take advantage of great savings year round. You’ll enjoy the same $0 fraud liability most credit cards now offer and this particular Discover credit card has been ranked #1 for 15 years.
If you’re thinking airline rewards might be a bigger benefit, take a look at the Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card. Every year, your account gets 3,000 bonus miles as an anniversary gift, and these points can be redeemed for international travel, gift cards, hotels, etc. You’re earning free flights every time you use your Chase/Southwest card and there are a host of other perks and benefits, too, such as free baggage checks and no change fees.
At a minimum, Bank of America has a lot of public relations work to do. No one says the consumers have to shoulder those burdens, though.