Using debit cards could cost money for some bank customers

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - For many bank customers, using your debit card will cost you. Starting next year, Bank of America plans to charge a monthly $5 fee when customers make debit card purchases.

And this weekend, Regions Bank, which has 20-branches in South Mississippi, will also start charging debit card fees.

At Lowes in Gulfport, plenty of customers were whipping out their debit cards.

"Three or four times a day," said Paul Trotter of Saucier. "It's more convenient really."

"Several times a day," said Machelle Collum of Gulfport. "It's just easier. I don't like carrying cash with me."

For Regions Bank customers, swiping a debit card for purchases could trigger a monthly fee.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Regions President Cheryl Johnson confirmed that starting Friday, Regions customers will be charged $4 a month, if they use their debit cards. However, customers can avoid paying that fee if they meet average balance requirements.

A Regions spokeswoman sent this statement to WLOX News: "Regulations have changed and, as a result, we and other banks are adjusting how we cover the costs of providing debit cards. For some customers, that will mean a monthly fee for a debit card beginning in October."

Amanda Gilbert is a Regions Bank customer. She uses her debit card for all sorts of transactions.

"For lunch, to pay bills online," said Gilbert. "I don't want to pay an extra, even $4 a month to have an account and use that bank and use that debit card. It should be free."

The move has other people wondering if their financial institutions will be next to tack-on a fee.

"Hopefully, it won't change," said Trotter, who banks with The First.

"As long as they don't change, I'll be happy," said Collum, who is a member of Hancock Bank.

The monthly fee only applies when you make purchases with your Regions debit card, not when you access your account using a Regions ATM.

Atlanta-based Sun Trust and JP-Morgan Chase are also testing debit card fees. Wells Fargo is using fees in some states, but not in Mississippi right now.

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