Banks make some fees more friendly

HOUSTON Almost everyone I spoke with has gotten a $35 debit account overdraft fee at one time or another. Those fees may become a thing of the past now that Chase and Bank of America have announced plans to overhaul their overdraft fee policies. When it comes to debit card overdraft fees nearly everyone has a budget busting story to tell.

Adam Ramirez said, "I think I have money in there, I pull money out. They charge me $35 for each time."

"A $35 fee for a $15 meal," said Matt Henson.

"They did not take it from another account so I got overdraft fee, insufficient and overdraft," said Margie Ruia. "Two of them, two hits."

But some pay more than others. Just ask David Forero.

"Like seven times in the last two months," he said.

Now those account killing fees may become a thing of the past. Bank of America and Chase have announced major, consumer friendly changes to overdraft fees.

At Chase, the bank is eliminating overdrafts for debit cards unless customers opt to have the service. The bank is posting debit charges as they occur, rather than largest to smallest, and reducing the maximum number of overdraft fees per day from six to three.

At Bank of America, customers can opt out of overdraft protection. The bank is also limiting the number of times customers will be charged an overdraft fee in a single day and not charging any fees if an account is overdrawn by less than $10.

For consumers, fewer fees means they can keep more money in their accounts.

Deana Turner with the Houston Better Business Bureau advised bank customers to "make sure they do not make this an excuse to not keep track of their account. Because it is still extremely important to know what is going on in your account and to make sure all the charges are yours and that they should be there."

The changes do not happen right away. They will be phased in over the coming months, and if you chose to link your ATM to your savings or other accounts, you can still get overdraft protection. Banking experts believe other banks will follow suit, so be on the lookout for changes at your own bank.

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