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Bank of America Testing New Accounts and Fees

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Bank of America(NEW YORK) -- Bank of America is testing changes in its account programs, along with a new fee structure. The company will try out four new products under the pilot program beginning later this month for new customers in Arizona, Georgia, and Massachusetts, states which represent 10 percent of Bank of America's customers.

The new account structure includes a basic checking account called "Bank of America Essentials" with a monthly fee of $9.

Currently, basic checking customers can avoid a monthly $8.95 service charge by maintaining a balance of around $1,500 or by having at least one direct deposit made each statement period.

A Bank of America spokesperson said Thursday customers will not be able to avoid a monthly service fee in the new "Essentials" account, even if they maintain a minimum balance amount or by using direct deposits.

"Many of our customers choose to have a monthly fee. They like that predictability," said Susan Faulkner, Bank of America Deposits and Card Product Executive, during a press conference Thursday.

The other new accounts unveiled Thursday, called, "Enhanced" and "Premium," would apply to customers with higher balances and multiple interest-bearing checking and savings accounts, or link to its credit card or mortgage services. And a new "Platinum Privileges" account requires the use of Bank of America's investment services.

Customers choosing those accounts will have to maintain higher minimum balances than previously. Bank of America has not yet disclosed what fees will be assessed, if balances fall below the minimum.

New customers in the states in the pilot program will only have the four test products or the bank's "eBanking" program available to them, bank officials said at a press conference Thursday. Customers with an "eBanking" account can choose a monthly fee or sign up for paperless statements and make all deposits and withdrawals online or at an ATM.

The primary reason for the change in the account structure is the "economic realities" of customers and their needs, said Faulkner.

According to Bank of America, one out of every two households in the U.S. banks with Bank of America. That is about 57 million households.

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ABC News Radio