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Banks test debit card fees, will others follow?

Never thought you'd see the day when you'd have to pay for a debit card? Well, that day seems to have come for some bank customers.

Wells Fargo plans to test market a $3 monthly fee for debit cards in some areas. JP Morgan Chase is already charging a $3 fee in some places, such as Wisconsin. Regions Bank, too, has already begun charging a $4 monthly debit card fee, as well as Sun Trust Bank. which now charges a $5 monthly debit card fee.

So is this a sign of things to come for all bank customers?

On "The Early Show," CBS News Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis said banks will continue to enter the debit card fee fray as long as the markets can bear the charge.

"Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge said, "(The fee is) like a tax, once it's there it's not coming back."

Co-anchor Erica Hill added, "They're experimenting...but this is a sign of things to come."

Jarvis said, "It is, but ultimately if people were to pull back, if consumers were to say, 'I'm not doing banking that way,' they have to change the way they do their banking as well."

So how can bank customers, frustrated by fees, avoid paying for an account?

Jarvis suggested finding a banking option at Bankrate.com.

She added that banking online can be a great option for many people.

Jarvis explained, "If you don't have the brick and mortar option, a bank can cut back on what it spends so you get a better deal as well."

Credit unions and community banks are also great places to go, according to Jarvis.

She said, "I've talked to community bankers and they say people are going away from the bigger banks and coming to us. They like the community interaction, but they also like the fact that, in many cases, they're not charging the fees."

However, if you do want to change banks, Jarvis warned consumers to do their homework and look at all the fine print involved in their account.

"Some banks are going to tell you that you can avoid paying fees, but there are certain stipulations that come along with that," Jarvis explained. "For example, keeping an average daily balance can be in place to avoid paying fees. Also, limitations on the number of transactions, in some cases you have to go over a certain number of transactions to keep from paying fees and sometimes you have to stay under a certain number of transactions, so read the fine print because sometimes if you're told this is 'no fee,' it comes with limitations."

And if you're not happy with the service you're getting from a bank, Jarvis recommended trying to work with the bank before completely cutting ties.

"Always negotiate," she said. "... If you love your bank, if you love your bank, then go to them, tell them you want to stay with them and tell them you know there are other banks that aren't going to charge you the same fees and see if they can make a deal because you've been a great customer."

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