SunTrust debit card fees: Limited free monthly transactions

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Another bank joins the debit fee hike! Wednesday, NBC12 told you about Wells Fargo testing new debit fees in four states- Virginia, luckily, is not one of them. But SunTrust customers learned this week, they're not so fortunate.

Deborah Fox is a loyal SunTrust customer. She's used that bank for more than 30 years.

"They gave me my first car loan at 18 years old," said Deborah.

She got an unwelcome surprise in the mail last week. What was free checking is now everyday checking. Starting November 10th, everyday checking accounts will be charged $7 a month.

"With the economy the way it is, we don't need the banks taking our money as well," she said.

To avoid the fee, you need to have direct deposit or carry a minimum daily balance of $500, but what has Deborah upset is the new cost for using your debit card. It will be $5 a month for the freedom to swipe at your leisure.

"They've made you dependent on it. They've created it as a convenience, now they're going to charge for it," Deborah said.

There is one way to avoid the $5 debit card fee. Put it away for the month. If you use it even once, you will be charged.

Deborah runs the Dog Cuttery out of her home and relies on her debit card to keep her business on track.

"You just can't do business any other way," she said.

She talked to a banker at SunTrust and was told to perhaps try a credit card instead. Deborah wasn't interested. "I don't think it's fair that they're charging the merchants for the debit card use and then turning around and charging the customer. To me that's double dipping."

Deborah and her husband have discussed leaving SunTrust, in search of a bank with fewer associated fees.

"It ends up being over a hundred dollars a year, and these days and times a hundred dollars a year is a lot of money," she said.

According to SunTrust, the checking fee only applies to everyday checking accounts, but will be incorporated into student checking in March of 2012. They suggest discussing your accounts with your bank to ensure you have the type of account you want.

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