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Bank of America Corp. is testing annual fees of $29 (19.46 euros) to $99 on credit cards, the company confirms. This month BofA began notifying some credit card customers of an annual fee that will appear on their February billing statements. Cardholders may decline to accept the fees, but if they do so BofA will close their accounts. The company has not disclosed how many customers have received fee-notification letters so far, but a BofA spokesperson tells CardLine it is "a very limited number." BofA selected cardholders across various card products, and "selection varies based on (the cardholders') risk and profitability," the spokesperson says. "We are making this change in response to market conditions, new federal laws and regulations, and the increasing costs of providing unsecured credit," BofA notes in a letter it sent to customers. One analyst says she is not surprised by BofA's move. "Although this is a test, I believe this is the beginning of a new trend we have expected to see around the world," Megan Bramlette, managing associate with credit card consultancy Auriemma Consulting Group, tells CardLine. "Card issuers coping with rising losses, the ongoing recession and the rise of tougher new regulations believe they have no choice but to introduce annual fees to offset some of these losses. I expect other issuers will follow. ... For a long time issuers have been waiting to see who would be first to do it." Bramlette expects to eventually see annual fees introduced on credit cards in Europe and Asia as well. "Over the next couple of years, issuers will test and introduce fees, and they will offer waivers on certain fees for optimal behavior," she says.

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