Bank of America is charging e-banking customers a $12 monthly fee if they don’t have a minimum balance of $1,500 or a direct monthly deposit of at least $250, USA Today reported. In response, many who can’t afford the fee–or angry about the charge–are considering other banking options, such as Black-owned banks that put their customers’ needs ahead of corporate bottom lines.
The banking giant faces backlash from angry customers. “Bank of America was one of the only brick-and-mortar bank that offered free checking accounts to their customers. Bank of America was known to care for both their high income and low income customers,” an online petition states, which received more than 50,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.
This comes at a time of renewal for Black-owned banks, which are a viable alternative, as the large banks find new ways to boost their earnings from low-income families. The rapper Killer Mike sparked the #bankblack movement in 2016 to uplift marginalized communities and to support a segment of the banking industry that was once a staple in Black communities. In the past, Black banks provided financial services, such as home and business loans, when the large commercial banks openly discriminated against African Americans.
Discrimination is not ancient history with Bank of America. The bank has been embroiled in allegations of discriminatory lending. Its history of discrimination extends to hiring practices. The bank was fined $2.2 million for discriminating against Black job applicants after its Charlotte, North Carolina headquarters discriminated against more than 1,100 Black job candidates between 1993 and 2005, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found.