Community Bank Throws Down on Big Banks Over Fees

Paying customers $5 a month to use debit cards

URBANA, Ohio -- The Peoples Savings Bank (TPSB), Urbana, Ohio, said that it is "fed up with the big-box banks" and is initiating a "protest" to call attention to debit-card fees. Over the next three months, it will pay customers $5 a month per account for using their debit card in each statement period. The objective is to call attention to recent actions of large banks--such as Bank of America, which recently instituted a $5 a month fee to use a debit card in the wake of the October 1 implementation of Durbin Amendment interchange-fee caps--and highlight the advantages community banks offer.

"Our customers voiced concerns over newly initiated debit-card fees by large banks and asked if we were going down the same path," said Brice Kadel, president. "Community banks including The Peoples Savings Bank are not in agreement with these fees and practices. To demonstrate opposition to these fees and the important advantages of community banks over large megabanks, we chose to do something fundamentally different. Paying our customers to use our debit cards is the kind of symbolic gesture that eliminates their fears."

During November, The Peoples Savings Bank will credit $5 to every customer account that uses one or more signature-based TPSB debit-card transactions during the statement period. The credit may also be earned in December and January under the same terms, totaling a maximum of $15 to every qualifying account. After January 31, customers will continue to enjoy no fee for point-of-sale debit card transactions. With as few as three debit-card payment transactions during the offer period, Kadel said he expects a positive response and is encouraging the bank's customers to use TPSB debit cards as often as they choose.

Charles S. Wingfield, chairman of TPSB, said that he sees the business practices of the large banks as detrimental to independent local banks and the communities they serve.

"The public image of many fine banking institutions is being questioned by the actions of a few," Wingfield said.

"Our goal is to raise awareness and remind our customers of how community banks do business," Kadel said.