Bowing to a national flood of protests, Bank of America Corp. is calling off its plan to charge customers $5 a month for using its debit cards to make purchases -- a strategy that proved a public relations disaster for what once was America's biggest bank.
Analysts had believed the rest of the banking industry would follow BofA in imposing similar fees to make up for new rules restricting the fees banks charge merchants for accepting debit cards.
But instead, the Charlotte, N.C., banking giant finds itself following the lead of a host of rivals who decided last week not to incur the wrath of the American public with debit-card fees.
Bank of America lost its No. 1 ranking in asset size to JPMorgan Chase & Co. at the end of September, though it still has the most total deposits. It announced its decision on the debit fee Tuesday morning in a two-paragraph statement citing "customer concerns and the changing competitive marketplace."
"We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee," David Darnell, BofA's co-chief operating officer, said in the statement.
"Our customers' voices are most important to us. As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so."