New BofA account free, but no tellers or paper

By McClatchy Tribune Newspapers
Posted July 16, 2010 at 6:34 a.m.

Bank of America is rolling out nationwide a bank account with no fees. Just don’t ask for a paper statement and stay out of the teller line. The nation’s largest retail bank said Thursday its new checking account, aimed at the iPhone set, is free of fees provided the customer requests electronic statements and prefers automated tellers.

The account has no minimum balance and no monthly fee, as long as the customer stays paperless and doesn’t use a human teller. Otherwise it’s $8.95 per month.

The new account does not affect current customers unless they want the service.

The new e-banking account goes national Aug. 6. The pilot was tested in Georgia, where one-third of new BofA customers since November have opted for it.

The new product is tailored for folks who never go into a branch and BofA anticipates few customers will be tripped up by the penalty, bank spokeswoman Anne Pace told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“What we have seen is many of our customers prefer to bank on the go,” Pace said.

Customers get two months of free paper statements when they sign up and are prompted to go paperless thereafter to avoid penalties. The new e-banking account will replace BofA’s popular student checking account.

Customer service problems won’t trigger fees, Pace said.

But more than just a new product, the new e-banking account is a new method of divining revenue while becoming more efficient. Going paperless cuts costs for the bank.

BofA, like other major banks, is looking for new revenue streams from its consumer operations in the wake of financial reform passed Thursday by the U.S. Senate. Overdraft fees, credit card interest rates and other revenue sources such as transaction fees were all in Congress’ cross hairs during reform debate.

Wells Fargo & Co., parent of Wachovia, Atlanta’s No. 2 bank, earlier this month announced it was eliminating free checking for new customers. Many other banks will now require direct deposit or set new minimum balances to keep checking accounts free, banking experts say.

“Throughout history, banks pass costs on,” said Chris Marinac, bank analyst with FIG Partners in Atlanta.

A Wells Fargo/Wachovia spokeswoman said the company encourages online banking, but does not have a similar product. A spokesman for SunTrust Banks, Atlanta’s largest lender, said the company does not have nor is it contemplating a similar offering.

Greg McBride, senior financial analyst with, said e-banking is nothing new. It was all the rage in the 1990s with the appearance of Internet-based banks and products and services have only grown over the past decade.

And mobile consumers want wireless options for basic banking services such as paying bills and depositing checks.

“Fees have been increasing steadily for more than 10 years,” McBride said. “Financial reform or not, that trend is not going to be broken any time soon.”

New regulations clamping down on overdraft charges and debit card transaction fees will send banks searching for new ways to nip at customers’ pocketbooks.

“Both of those revenue streams have underwritten free checking accounts for years,” McBride said.

- By J. Scott Trubey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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  1. RegularGuy July 16, 2010 at 11:08 a.m.

    “You’re a pest, you’re a pest.
    We don’t want you as our guest . . .”

    BofA has finally admitted that they don’t want to see you, hear from you, or speak to you. All they want is your money, thank you very much.

    It’s interesting that they’re targeting the ‘iPhone crowd’ – people who would rather text or tweet instead of actually TALKING to another human being. Maybe BofA should adopt the slogan, “Where the Antisocial People Put Their Money.”

  2. Geena July 16, 2010 at 11:56 a.m.

    Do not trust “FREE” spoken by B of A. You WILL regret it.
    Try Seaway Bank, Chicago.Long established and healthy bank right here in Chicago.
    They have provided loans to many Chicago businesses over decades.

  3. Chris July 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Personally I think it is a good idea. This account is “tailored” to customers who do not intend to visit a banking center. If your not interested in the account, then dont opt for it. Pretty simple choices in my opinion.

    To the RegularGuy Poster above:

    If you have direct deposit, a debit card, and access to the internet; what reason do you have to visit a branch?

  4. RegularGuy July 16, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    @Chris – Free coffee and those little mint candies. ;-)

    Truth be known, I seldom go into a bank branch. But I can if I want to, and at no extra charge. I USED to bank with BofA.

  5. StitchingAngel July 16, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    @Chris – Laundry quarters.

  6. Ang_Chicago July 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I am a BofA customer and am quite pleased with their service. I can take care of any banking matters online. As another comment points out, if the account is not for you, don’t sign up for it.

  7. RegularGuy July 17, 2010 at 10:46 a.m.

    @Ang_Chicago – Just wait and see how BofA treats you when you decide to close your account. BofA gets extremely vindictive. You won’t be able to get the time of day from them at that point.

  8. Chris July 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm


    I believe there was another article on here that did mention Bank of America would not charge the account if you used tellers to buy coin since the ATM can not process that. Hope that helps.