‘These weasels.’ Bank of America gets ripped online for killing free accounts

Bank of America’s decision to eliminate a free-checking account continues to anger many customers and others – and they’re taking to social media to give the bank an earful.

The Charlotte-based bank this month completes a years-long phaseout of its eBanking account, which didn’t charge monthly maintenance fees if customers received paperless statements and didn’t use bank tellers for routine transactions. Bank of America has converted such customers to another checking account that requires them to keep more money at the bank to avoid fees that are higher.

Critics have lashed out on Facebook and Twitter, with many saying the move hurts low-income people and that they planned to stop doing business with the bank in protest.

“This action caused me to close my last account with these weasels,” one person wrote on Twitter.

“Seriously, BoA, do you want to keep your customers? Because there ARE other options out there,” another tweeted.

“$12 per month for a checking account?” tweeted NPR “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep. “Some math: If you have $1,000 in the account, $12 is 1.2% of it—per month. Multiply by 12 months: people without much money are charged an annual rate of 14.4% for the bank to hold their money and process checks.”

Introduced in 2010, the eBanking account charged customers an $8.95 monthly fee if they received monthly statements in the mail and used tellers instead of automated teller machines and online banking. The accounts didn’t require a minimum balance, making it attractive to people on fixed incomes.

The bank has been transferring eBanking customers to its “Core Checking” account. That account comes with 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.

A Bank of America spokeswoman has said the $250 monthly direct deposit requirement, which equates to $3,000 a year, is one of the lowest requirements in the industry.

The spokeswoman also noted that Core Checking customers have full access to all the bank’s branches, ATMs and mobile and online banking services, and that customers have several ways to avoid the $12 fee.

Here’s a look at some comments from Twitter users on the bank’s move:

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts