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Beware Bank of America "no fees"

We hadn't planned to use our BoA debit card in Europe, we had other debit cards that didn't charge a fee. We brought it for emergency back up only. When we called BoA to alert them that we may use the debit card in Europe they asked which countries. When I mentioned Italy they told me that the card carried no fee when used at the Italian bank BNL. This is the second time that they gave me this information unsolicited. I queried further and they assured me that there were no fee when using my debit card at a BNL ATM. When I got home I discovered that I had been charged fees. I called them and they said that there was no transaction fee but there was an international fee! I told them that I had been purposely misled and they said that they would wave the fee.

Posted by
3492 posts

If they did in fact assure you there were no fees at all, then good for you for standing up to them. It seems that there is more and more deliberate and misleading deception on the part of many companies. Not saying that is the case here, but it does happen and will just get worse unless people refuse to take it sitting down.

Posted by
3580 posts

The same thing happened to me this spring at the preferred French bank. I ended up going to the bank and having the charge reversed. In the past, BofA didn't charge fees at BNP Paribas.

Posted by
5657 posts

BofA ATM transactions have two different kinds of fees. The first is the non-BofA ATM usage fee which BofA likes to promote as waived/free IF a Global Alliance bank machine is used. The other fee that is not waived is their foreign transaction fee. This is spelled out in B of A's website:

Be prepared before using an International ATM. Before you use your
card to get cash from an international ATM it pays to do a little
research. When you use a foreign ATM, you could be charged a variety
of fees, including non-bank ATM usage fees, ATM operator access fees,
and international transaction fees for conversion to U.S. dollars. One
way to limit such fees is to use your Bank of America ATM or debit
card at one of our international partner ATMs. This enables you to
avoid the Non-Bank of America ATM $5 usage fee for each withdrawal,
transfer or balance inquiryFootnote2 as well as the ATM operator
access fee.

Keep in mind that when you use your debit card to withdraw money from
an international ATM, Bank of America will assess an international
transaction fee of 3% of the converted U.S. dollar amountFootnote3.
Foreign ATM operators may offer to do your currency conversion for
you, but they may charge a higher fee for conversion. You can refuse
the foreign ATM conversion and be assessed the 3% Bank of America
international transaction fee instead.

Posted by
3523 posts

I could certainly see why you thought when they said "no fees" there would be no fees. This is a communication and training issue since the individual at Bank of America was only focused on the ATM fee when commenting to you. I'm not sure that I would see this as a deliberate attempt to mislead you as much as poor training for Bank of America workers.

I'm glad you posted your experience because it helped to get the word out that there are two possible types of fees when using ATM's overseas. The ATM fee itself and the international transaction fee.

I use a Charles Schwab Debit card that truly has no ATM fees or international transaction fees when traveling and it has worked well for me.

Posted by
215 posts

I originally opened a BoA checking account because they had no atm fees at sister banks. That changed maybe 2 years ago. They started charging 3% on withdrawals from affiliated banks, more if its from a non affiliated bank(another $5 flat fee I believe)
Now I mostly use my TDBank debit card which had no fees at all at any bank, now charges a $3 flat fee. I will use BoA for small withdrawals, though.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks for posting, I appreciated everyone's comments. Just to ad some further clarity to my experience:

"I'm not sure that I would see this as a deliberate attempt to mislead you as much as poor training for Bank of America workers."

When I talked to them on the two occasions I told them that I had another bank debit card that charged no fees, which I have used for a number of years. They said that there was no fee at that sister bank. These were two different people saying the same thing. Still, if it is poor training, I have noticed that it always results in Bank of America's favor, never in mine. How can that be? Mistakes should go in both directions. I can only conclude that it is deliberate, or maybe perhaps, it is indeed poor training. If so, it will never end, because BoA is making money off of that poor training. Which would be an incentive to do more poor training. Sounds like a pretty solid business model. Honestly, this is just another example of BoA fleecing the customer with purposely misleading information in the hopes we won't check our records or bother with it. Another post spelled out the BoA policy on foreign transactions. Of course that is buried under mountains of b-------. On two occasions, two different BoA employees never mentioned it, even when I told them I don't want to pay any fees. Why would that be? Ummmm, greed?

Posted by
2261 posts

Not sure I understand what the problem is. Their printed terms clearly state the 3% foreign transaction fee. The material also states that this may not be assessed depending upon your account type. The lack of training issue appears to be that the CSR did not adequately answer/understand the question as asked, rather than erring in BofA''s favor.

The simple solution is to end your relationship with BofA and take your business elsewhere, to one of several bank's that are much more favorable to the consumer. Really -no ATM fee as, long as you find one of their partner bank ATMs? 3% surcharge if you take money abroad (unless you have wads of money in their bank)? Now those terms are "greed". There is no need to accept them.

Posted by
6061 posts

Most customer service people anywhere, just read answers verbatim from a script they have prepared for FAQ. So they don't read more into the question than the specific words used, or really understand what you might need to know, versus what they are asked.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks to all that have added to this string and it has given me a chance to pause and reconsider. The next time that I talk to a Bank of America employee, I will say, "I understand that as a Bank of America employee you are poorly trained. Therefore, I don't believe anything you are telling me. I know it isn't purposely deceitful, you are just reading from a script and I'm not using the correct arcane language. Bank of America would never be purposely deceitful, they're too busy poorly training all their employees. So, I will go and research the actual policy on this topic, which will be significantly different from what you are telling me. Meaning, I won't save money like you are telling me, instead Bank of America will take my money. I will also recommend you for a raise because so far all of your poorly trained mistakes has made Bank of America richer."

Oh, the problem here, btw, is that other people may fall victim to all of this poorly trained chicanery.