Debit card fee to encourage more bank use, Bank of America CEO says

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said Tuesday that a recently announced $5 monthly debit-card fee is a way to encourage people to bring more of their "banking relationships" to the Charlotte-based bank.

The comments were among Moynihan's first responses to the debit-card fee, which has drawn a significant outcry from consumers and politicians since it was announced late last month.

"When we look at the profile of customers who have their entire banking relationship with us and those that don't, a lot of people can qualify, will qualify and do qualify not to pay the fees...," Moynihan said on a conference call with analysts to discuss the bank's quarterly earnings report.

"The issue is when people split their relationship and use our convenience and our access and our 18,000 ATMs ... and our online banking products and all that and yet have their relationship elsewhere," he said.

"That is tough for us to afford to provide and... be competitive. And so the fees are to get people to bring more of their relationships, and we're comfortable that we'll end up in a good dynamic there."

Debit-card users will not have to pay a fee if they have at least $5,000 in a linked savings account, a mortgage or a substantial investment account with Bank of America.

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