Congressmen criticize end of free checking accounts at Bank of America

Congressmen criticize end of free checking accounts at Bank of America

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two U.S. congressmen want Bank of America to explain its decision to eliminate a popular free-checking account.

Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., have requested a briefing from Bank of America officials on the decision and for the bank to provide documents by Feb. 9, The Charlotte Observer reported.

The data requested includes the number of people enrolled in free accounts at the bank and an analysis of how the tax overhaul affects Bank of America’s financial results.

The Charlotte-based bank is expected to enjoy $3.5 billion in savings from the lower tax rate in 2018, the letter says, citing data posted by a progressive website.

“It is difficult to understand why one of America’s largest banks would end a program that many low-income American families rely on just weeks after benefiting from one of the largest tax cuts in American history,” the lawmakers wrote Friday to Brian Moynihan, the bank’s CEO.

Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess said the bank stopped offering the eBanking account to new customers five years ago. The account didn’t have a monthly maintenance fee as long as customers received paperless statements and didn’t use bank tellers for routine transactions.

“We will be pleased to explain to these members the many ways we provide straightforward and transparent service, including to low-to-moderate income customers,” she said.

Bank of America has transferred eBanking customers to its Core Checking account, which requires a $12 monthly fee unless customers have a daily balance of at least $1,500 or at least one direct deposit of $250 or more.

The bank also offers a SafeBalance account for customers looking for a low-priced option, Riess said. That account has a flat monthly fee of $4.95 and does not allow overdrafts.

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