Bank of America 'Breaks Even' With Fees

NEW YORK( TheStreet) -- Bank of America's ( BAC) plan to charge fees for checking accounts could help it break even in revenue after the Durbin Amendment is implimented, according to Susquehanna Financial Group David Hilder.

"I had calculated that if the debit interchange law cut fees by 50 percent then it would require Bank of America to charge $4.50 per customer account. Since the law would cut 80 percent of fees, it is not surprising that Bank of America has come up with a price of a little over $6.00 a month for an account," Hilder said.

Bank of America is rolling out a pilot program to charge customers fees in Georgia, Massachusetts and Arizona at the end of January, and nationwide by the second half of 2011 and 2012. The fees will vary depending on the customers needs and checking accounts.

Susan Faulkner, deposits and card product executive at Bank of America, said on a Thursday conference call that BofA needed to change its checking accout product in the, "face of a new economic reality," and would not speculate on how much revenue the pilots would generate.

"It is really about getting the customer the right solution. We are finding out how much the fees could generate and how does that translate to what our customers are telling us," said Faulkner.

Hilder says to expect more banks to launch experiments in their checking programs over the coming months.

"I think all of the banks are going to experiment. It is pretty clear that Bank of America, Citigroup ( C), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Wells Fargo ( WFC) are likely to do different things," said Hilder.

Bank of America's program centers around four different types of checkign accounts. The monthly fees for the pilot will be $6, $9, $12, $15 and $25.

Bank of America Essentials will cost between $6 to $9 and will offer a single checking account with a debit card with no minimum deposit required. The fee cannot be waived.

Bank of America Enhanced has a $12 fee if the customer doesn't keep a $2,000 balance, or a combined $5,000 balance across accounts. It will offer links with up to four accounts. Enhanced customers can avoid fees by using a linked credit card at least once a month or using direct deposit for $2000 a month.

The Premium program requires a balance of $20,000 in accounts or a Bank of America mortgage to avoid monthly fees.

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