In 2011, hundreds of thousands of customers flocked to credit unions and community banks to avoid the planned debit card fees by major banks. Now these banks are going back to the drawing board, looking for ways to produce revenue without alienating and angering customers. This is proving difficult, but one Bank of America program, currently being piloted among their employee base, may start a new, customer-friendly trend.
The program is called BankAmeriDeals and it offers Groupon-like discounts to customers based on their prior spending habits. Offers will come from the bank's website and award customers through monthly cash payments. This may allow the bank to produce revenue from the vendors they partner with, instead of charging customers more unpopular fees.
Unlike Groupon, there will be no coupons to print and there won't be daily emails advertising the deals. Customers will be able to opt in only to the type of deals that fits their lifestyle. The plan will be rolled out to customers once internal testing is complete, according to Bank of America.
Bank of America isn't the only bank looking for new, customer-friendly ways to produce additional income. You may not have heard of household accounts yet, but don't be surprised if the offer comes in the mail soon. Household accounts might include a main account held by parents with a series of prepaid cards for each child. The prepaid cards would have fees attached to them but consumers might find it more palatable if it adds the convenience of a prepaid card without parents having to give their children a credit card.
If you've opened a bank account recently, then you may have heard about the banks' exclusive insurance product offerings. Wells Fargo, for example, offers renter's insurance as well as a variety of other products that cater to the needs of its account holders. Banks have offered insurance products for many years, but as profits become thinner, customers might find that they hear more about them when they visit a branch. Sometimes these products are priced competitively so consider your bank when a need arises.
You've seen ads everywhere from billboards to bathroom stalls, but if one new business takes off, you may soon see ads when you sign in to do your online banking. Cardlytics is a company that wants to do just that. The idea isn't new. When you sign in to your online banking system, a series of advertisements will appear, allowing you to take advantage of the offers. If you click on one of the offers and purchase it, the bank receives a cut of the profits. It's a small revenue stream in banking terms, but as banks find it increasingly difficult to charge fees, every little bit helps.
The Bottom Line
Don't be fooled. Although the banks are having trouble charging new fees, the old fees that customers are used to will probably keep rising to make up for lost revenue due to stricter regulations. Keep a close eye on your statements and question any changes in fees.
SEE: 5 Bank Fees You May Not Know About.