Bank of America to Restructure Bank Accounts, Fees

Bank of America (BAC) intends to restructure its customer bank accounts and fees, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

With regulatory changes expected to hurt banks' top lines, the large lender is not alone in trying to find ways to boost its consumer operation. Many banks are experimenting with new fees and considering additional charges on services. But as Bank of America has some sort of banking relationship with half of all U.S. households, there is great interest in its moves.

BofA said it will divide customers into four categories -- "Premium," "Enhanced," "eBanking" and "Essentials" -- based on account activity and number of products, the WSJ reported, according to a memo from Joseph Price, president of consumer and small business banking at BofA.

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The bank will apparently begin testing an "Essentials" account -- a basic checking account -- with a roughly $6 monthly fee that cannot be waived. Normally, accounts with more features have higher monthly fees ranging from $8.95 to $25. But those can be waived if customers maintain certain balances, or use certain other bank services. The tests will begin in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts later this month before a nationwide launch in the second half of the year.

Industry observers, including analyst Meredith Whitney, expects the ranks of the "unbanked" and "underbanked" will rise as institutions reconsider the costs and benefits of all manner of products.

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