The end is near for debit card overdraft fees. Is that good?

When the Federal Reserve moved to make it harder for banks to to charge debit card overdraft fees, we asked, “What will consumers do with new overdraft options?”

The question we should have asked was, “How will banks respond to the new rules?”

We got that answer Wednesday when Bank of America announced it would end overdraft fees on debit card transactions.

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The catch? If you don’t have the cash in your account, the bank will deny the transaction, potentially leaving you without cash when you need it.

Starting in July, financial institutions won’t be able to automatically enroll people in ATM or debt-card overdrafts services.

Consumers will have to opt in to the service, one where banks often charge $10, $20 or more for ATM or debit-card overdrafts (check overdrafts aren’t part of the new rule).

So instead of being automatically enrolled, you get information under the new Fed rules. If you don’t opt in to the overdraft service you can’t be charged overdraft fees on ATM and one-time debit card transactions.

Rather than deal with all that, Bank of America basically said no more. It’s likely the rest of the banking industry will follow Bank of America’s lead.

Consumers Union and other groups applauded the move.

Bank of America noted that customers will still be able to protect themselves from overdrawing by linking their checking accounts to their savings account.

So will consumers get smart now? Or are we about to see waves of people stuck at the cashier trying to pay for gas with no cash in hand and their debit card transaction rejected?

Tell us how well you manage your accounts and what you do to avoid overdrafts. Post below or drop us a line. We’ll include some of the responses in an upcoming post.

  • P. Caldwell

    I have to question – Doesn’t anyone reconcile their checkbooks anymore? Because it seems as if no one really know how much money they have or in the case of overdrafts, don’t have. The basic mantra must be repeated “If you don’t have the funds don’t write the check or pass the plastic because as soon as it’s written or swiped, it’s gone!” Please everyone, reconcile! How do you know if there is fraudulent activity on your account if you’re not? Protect yourself – if you don’t know how to reconcile please learn.