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NEW YORK — Wells Fargo plans to test a $3 monthly fee for its debit cards starting this fall.

The San Francisco-based bank said the fee will be applied to checking accounts opened in five states, including Washington, starting in October. The fee would be in addition to monthly service fees ranging from $5 to $30 that Wells Fargo already charges.

Although it's unusual, Wells Fargo isn't the first major bank to test whether customers will be willing to pay to use their debit cards. Chase last year also began testing a $3 monthly debit card fee in northern Wisconsin.

Other major banks have also revamped their lineup of checking accounts in the past year or so, in many cases by hiking monthly fees or adding conditions customers must meet to qualify for fee waivers.

At Wells Fargo, for example, monthly service fees can be waived if customers set up direct deposit or maintain a certain minimum balances.

The industry's experimentation with fees is partly a response to a new regulation that will sharply reduce the revenue that banks collect on checking accounts. Starting this fall, a new cap will limit how much banks can collect from merchants whenever a customer swipes a debit card. Wells Fargo has said it plans to recover about half the revenue it loses from the new regulation, either through product changes or volume growth.

For now, Wells Fargo's $3 debit card fee test will be limited to accounts opened in Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.

- The Associated Press

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