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An activity charge typically refers to some type of fee that is charged to an account based upon action taken by the account holder. Someone with a bank account, for example, may be charged a fee for using an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). This is referred to as an activity charge, as it is based upon actions of an account holder rather than a regular, ongoing fee. There are also “inactivity” fees that are often similar, based upon an account holder not taking certain actions.
The nature of an activity charge can depend a great deal upon the type of account it is associated with, such as a bank or credit card. Bank accounts often have these types of fees in order to ensure that customers maintain accounts in a certain way or to recuperate on various expenses. One of the most common types of activity charge for a bank account is for the use of an ATM owned by a different bank. This is often implemented to cover fees needed to transfer data and finances between different banks, and to encourage customers to primarily visit the bank they belong to.
Some banks have begun trying out fees based on customers using debit cards that are connected to their accounts. This type of activity charge has been criticized since it is a penalty for using a standard part of the account, but may become more acceptable as additional banks adopt the fee. Credit cards can also have a number of stipulations that may cause an activity charge to be applied to a customer’s account. Failure to pay a bill on time, for example, can cause a fee, though this may be seen as more of a penalty.
There are also forms of activity charge that could more truly be called an “inactivity” fee, since they are typically billed to customers who fail to meet certain criteria. Some credit cards, for example, require a certain number of charges be placed on the card within a given period, such as each month or year. Customers who fail to meet this requirement may be charged a fee in order to encourage additional use of the card. This type of activity charge is often used on cards that do not have an annual fee, ensuring that customers use their cards and make payments on a regular basis, or else pay a fee that functions in much the same way as the annual one.