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American consumers have a cornucopia of plastic cards in their wallets, bearing the familiar logos of Visa (NYSE: V  ) , MasterCard (NYSE: MC  ) , Discover (NYSE: DFS  ) , and American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) . But plastic aficionados, beware: Soon, you could get slammed with a fee for practicing restraint. Priceless.

Bloomberg reported that Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq: FITB  ) is trying out "inactivity fees." That's right -- some cardholders could rack up fees just for having the card in their wallet, but not using it. This could be a sign of things to come, as other lenders also experiment with fee structures.

We all know that profligate spending on credit helped fuel our recent economic crisis. Now, banks are dealing with higher delinquencies and defaults by finding ways to make up for anemic revenue. However, punishing responsible customers might not be their brightest idea ever.

Do concepts like this give you a warm and fuzzy feeling about financial companies' bright future? Or do they just make you want to dust off the ol' pitchforks and torches? Sound off below.

American Express and Discover Financial Services are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy. 

Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (18)

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  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2009, at 4:36 PM, bigbucksfan wrote:

    I am one of those Fifth Third customers that was assessed the "Inactivity Fee" on the two cards I had with them. I had one card for 10 years and the other for 7. I never missed a payment and have an 800+ credit score. I called the bank to find out what the fee was about and they said it's because I don't use the I closed both cards, after they waived the fee. Oh, I also closed ALL of my accounts with them as well as my children's savings accounts and moved them to a community bank. HMMMM, not sure this fee thing is working out how Fifth Third planned.

    Being a former employee there, I know they typically charge fees to customers who can't move their accounts so they are stuck paying the fee. Instead, this "Inactivity Fee" hits the profitable, creditworthy customers, who can AND WILL leave....not a smart business plan and VERY SHORT-SIGHTED. .

    Bye Bye Fifth Third....I miss the old company but I love my new community bank because they actually treat me with respect!

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2009, at 4:49 PM, mtr wrote:

    Join a credit union and you won't have such fees.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2009, at 8:04 PM, tramagli wrote:

    Aren't the card companies and banks good at shooting themselves in the foot?

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2009, at 8:05 PM, tramagli wrote:

    Aren't the card companies and banks good at shooting themselves in the foot?

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2009, at 8:28 PM, ease1 wrote:

    This is about the only thing they are doing well at this point. I found the same issue with rate increases and now other fees.

    I called one of my still active accounts who will remain nameless (it was visa), and asked them if they liked my business.

    Of course I got the same song and dance, "yes sir, we want your business", but when I question the new fees and rate increase, they tell me " we're doing it to all customers".

    You realize this will drive customers away in droves. I got no response to the last question. Ok, close my account.

    As a business, they will probably survive but at this time I don't know how they could.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 10:38 AM, BMFPitt wrote:

    "As a business, they will probably survive but at this time I don't know how they could."

    You'll remember on April 15th.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 11:03 AM, greenvillewolf wrote:

    Maybe stunts like this will finally cause people to stop using credit cards and use cash instead.

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