Why I Cut Up My BoA Debit Card on Air

by Gerri Willis

Last Thursday, I protested Bank of America's new $5 monthly fee for using your debit card by cutting up mine. After all, that's what I'm here for -- to show how Main Street gets hurt by Washington and Wall Street.

I object to this fee because I feel we consumers already pay enough to the banks -- this fee alone would add about $2 billion to banks' bottom lines!

Boy, did you respond! I was inundated with e-mails, Facebook posts and tweets.

Many of you agreed with me the banks are taking advantage of the very folks who bailed them out in the first place.

Roger Garrett sent me this: "After 30 years of banking with Bank of America, today I walked into a local branch and ask to speak to the branch manager and closed every account."

Others of you thought I was being unfair.

These folks believe the new Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank bill puts undue financial pressure on lenders.

That amendment reduced the amount of money banks can collect from merchants in so-called swipe fees. This is no small deal -- only last year swipe fees totaled $48 billion -- $17 billion from debit cards.

Here's what Joe McGuiness said: "Banks are in the business to make money and Dodd-Frank is going to reduce earnings. They need to replace revenue in order to prosper and hopefully pay dividends to shareholders! The culprit is government intervention."

There is no doubt the banking business has been over-regulated and part of the reason lenders are not eager to lend is because every day another rule is coming down from Washington. But do you really believe retailers are going to pass their savings in swipe fees onto consumers? No way. There are winners and losers in every one of these debates and consumers always seem to come out on the short end of the stick.

Many of you told me you'd long ago pulled the plug on big money center banks. Robert C. Richardson said this: "My wife and I only use our credit union, which provides us with a MasterCard [and] debit card... we have financed several autos there at great interest rates... I can't understand why anyone uses banks anymore!"

Amen, to that -- credit unions can be a good alternative and Robert has it right: the rates of interest they charge on loans can be better than the big banks. I'd say be sure to check out the size of their ATM network, and their online presence -- online bill pay for me is a must!

Another great alternative can be a smaller local or regional bank. Although - some of them have already instituted debit card fees as well.

One option I am considering is just getting a great rewards credit card and putting all my daily transactions -- ones that would have gone onto a debit card -- on that. I'll just have to be careful to pay it off in full each month.

Oh and by the way -- you may be responding to our segment but Bank of America isn't all that responsive. In fact, I'd describe them as in denial. A bank spokeswoman told me today their website hasn't been down -- even though I've tried to get into my account multiple times over the last four days (I took screen-grabs to prove it!) but was only successful once. What's more, the bank has nothing to say about whether traffic on its site is through the roof because of this new $60-dollar-a-year fee.

Look, at the end of the day, I don't believe banks should be squeezing us like lemons to make their profit margins. But we have the power to vote with our feet, to stand up for what we want as consumers. You don't have to accept these changes!