Some banks may begin to charge maintenance fees on savings accounts, much like those already charged for many checking accounts, in response to potential government changes to reduce the interest paid to banks on money held in reserve.
If this is the case, the financial industry says that it may have to look for another stream of income from savings. Some are skeptical that banks will go this far, however, since the industry already has seen customer resistance to previous fees and minimums. Bankrate.com financial analyst Greg McBride points out that the industry already has faced issues concerning debit cards, such as the revolt against Bank of America's 2011 announcement that it was introducing a $5 monthly fee on such cards. In response, Bank of America eventually reversed its policy.
Savings accounts are relatively inexpensive for banks to maintain, as they are less transactional in nature than checking accounts. Savings-account customers also may provide banks a chance to cross-sell potentially lucrative products such as mortgages and retirement accounts. Even if the chances are slim that banks will place maintenance fees on savings accounts, it remains a significant issue. Recent years have seen Americans embracing savings accounts in record numbers, due to concerns about equity markets. In the past year alone, money in all savings vehicles increased by 6.8 percent to nearly $10.9 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.