Bank of America adds $59 card fee

Associated Press / February 16, 2011

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NEW YORK — Bank of America is assessing a new $59 annual fee on select credit card holders.

The bank began mailing out notices of the new fee last week. The fee will be assessed on May statements and will affect about 5 percent of the bank’s credit card customers, said Betty Riess, a company spokeswoman.

The fee isn’t tied to a specific type of card and is based strictly on the customer’s risk profile. For example, the selected customers may carry balances close to their credit limits, have lower-than-average FICO scores, or regularly make late payments. They likely don’t have any other relationship — such as a checking account or mortgage — with the bank, Riess said.

On average, the customers who are being assessed the fee are being charged a 14 percent interest rate. Bank of America said these customers generally would not be approved for a no-fee new account today at their current rates.

Under regulations that went into effect last year, credit card issuers must give a customer 45 days notice before changing any terms on an account. Card issuers are also now prohibited from raising rates in the first year after an account is opened, or on existing balances. Late fees and other penalty charges are capped at $25 per violation.