Some members of credit unions that sold their card portfolios to banks in agent-issuing agreements will face another round of fees in May as Bank of America has announced it will impose a $59.00 additional fee on some accounts.
Media outlets reported that some Bank of America cardholders had already been notified about the fee and that about 5% of cardholders will face the additional cost. The accounts that will face the fee are those that may carry balances close to their credit limits, have lower than average FICO scores or often make late payments.
Critics charge the fee violates the CARD Act because it effectively increases the interest rate on an existing balance when a cardholder is not 60 days late with a payment.
Bank of America said the $59.00 fee is an "annual fee" and not a "membership" fee and therefor is allowed under the CARD Act. A bank spokesman also pointed out that cardholders were given the option of giving up access to their credit lines if they did not want to pay the fee.
Analysts questioned whether the bank was on firm regulatory ground since the fee in question was not being added to all card accounts or all card accounts of certain class such as Gold or Platinum. Applying the fee to some accounts and not others, they noted, makes it appear that the fee is effectively an interest rate increase on only those accounts.