Wells Fargo: No more free checking

by: Jeff Smith Updated:

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Many Wells Fargo customers are outraged after learning they'll face a $7 service fee for having a checking account.

"I'm going to find a bank that's not going to charge me just to control my money," Aaron Barnett told Eyewitness News a few minutes after learning about the new service fee.

The fees begin in early August. It's a $7-a-month fee for customers who receive paper statements; it's a $5-a-month fee for switching to online-only statements.

Many customers are already planning out their summer finances so they can avoid the monthly charges.

An estimated 14 million customers will have to pay the new fee, including special education teacher Phyllis Martin. She's upset by the timing of Wells Fargo's announcement.

"I think it's very unfair," Martin said. "The school system employees only have a month of work left, and you're out of a job in the summer, so that's going to be real hard to manage over the summer."

Wells Fargo customers received an e-mail Thursday afternoon explaining two ways to avoid the checking account fee: customers can maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance, or they can maintain a $500 minimum direct deposit every month.

Some customers said that means the people stuck paying the fee are those who can't afford it.

"I don't think that that's right for them to throw that at customers," Barnett said.

Wells Fargo has lost hundreds of millions of dollars because of new federal regulations on debit card swipe fees, but the bank isn't saying how much it stands to profit from this new checking account fee.

"The $7 they're charging us will go to give big executives big bonuses. That's not fair, it's very unfair," said Martin.

"Is this going to make you consider moving to a bank that doesn't have this charge?" asked Eyewitness News.

"A credit union, yes," she responded.

Martin said she'll now have to check her account balance every day, and she'll do what she can to avoid the new charge.