Debit fees to pinch consumers

photo Pedestrians walk past a Synovus ATM off Market Street in Chattanooga.

Banking may never be the same after Oct. 1, as a new federal rule threatens to eliminate free checking and affect the way people use their debit cards.

The new rule slashes in half the amount banks are allowed to collect from merchants for each debit card swipe.

Lost revenue from swipe fees is expected to be made up with a bevy of new fees on card consumers, instead of merchants - who were granted relief by the Federal Reserve under the Dodd-Frank law, experts say.

"A lot of banks currently offer free checking accounts where there are no monthly fees, and that's supplemented because of some of the interchange fees they're able to receive for debit and credit card use," said Jim Ingram, vice president at the Bank of LaFayette in Walker County, Ga.