Bank of America's new checking account awards those who bank online

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Bank of America is launching a new checking account that encourages customers to stick to banking online, through ATMs or over their mobile phones.

Called eBanking, the new account will be free to customers provided they do what is suggested in the title -- stick with electronic banking. Should the customer use a bank branch, they will have to pay an $8.95 monthly maintenance fee. "But just for that month," says Bank of America spokeswoman Anne Pace.

Bank of America tested the new account in Georgia and will make it available nationwide on August 6, according to Pace.

"Essentially, it's a product with no monthly maintenance fee, no minimum balance, as long as you sign up for paperless statements and only use the ATM, instead of doing into the branch, for withdrawals and deposits," says Pace.

If you do end up making a deposit or withdrawal at a bank branch, Pace says that you can keep making withdrawals and deposits at the branch for the remainder of the month, and the $8.95 fee won't change. "If you have a service issue," says Pace, "or a billing question, or if you have a jar of pennies that you want to convert into dollars, or any other issues, you can go into the bank and not be charged. This is just for making withdrawals and deposits."

Those who currently have a checking account at Bank of America, probably aren't paying a monthly fee for it because they have direct deposit or keep a minimum balance. But there are some folks like freelancers, contractors and the unemployed that don't have direct deposit from an employer and therefore pay a fee. So if you're one of the people who are constantly being hammered by maintenance fees, and if you're comfortable doing your banking through the web site, ATM and your mobile phone, this may actually save you some cash.

Geoff Williams is a frequent contributor to WalletPop. He is also the co-author of the book Living Well with Bad Credit.
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