Customers use ATM machines inside of a Bank of America branch.
Bank of America nixes its plans to implement debit card charges, but some customers aren't moved by the decision. REUTERS

Bank of America and several other large U.S.banks plan to charge customers fees for using debit cards.

The big banks are passing on to their customers the cost of financial regulations that limit the fees they can charge merchants for debit-card transactions.

Bank of America plans to charge $5 per month for debit-card usage, although premium accounts are exempt.

Many customers reacted to word of the debit-card fees with outrage.

“Not interested in BOA's business practice to fee us to death. Time to look into a local credit union account,” wrote one commenter on Bank of America’s Facebook page.

Below are three ways to avoid these fees.

Patronize Smaller Institutions

Small banks and credit unions with less than $10 billion in assets are exempt from the merchant-fee cap. Presumably, most of them will not introduce any debit-card fees in the near future.

However, small banks may not offer as many investment services as large banks, like Bank of America. Moreover, it may take some effort, especially when traveling, to find fee-free ATMs that belong to their ATM networks.

Lastly, industry and regulatory pressures may eventually force small banks to consider ATM fees.

Employ Credit Cards

Functionally speaking, credit cards are very similar to debit cards, and they may be suitable replacements for some customers.

If one gets into debt or misses payments, however, interest and penalty fees can easily exceed Bank of America’s $5 monthly debit-card fee.

Pay in Cash

Using cash exclusively has obvious drawbacks and inconveniences, which were big factors that spawned the existence and growth of the credit- and debit-card industries in the first place.

Still, cash does have some advantages.

Studies and anecdotal accounts have shown, for example, that using cash exclusively may help some people to control their spending and thus save money.