In addition to its ground-breaking plan this summer to end overdraft fees on its debit card purchases, Bank of America is also going to offer alerts to online customers if their checking account balance is too low or overdrawn. The nation’s largest bank will end the frustrating and much-maligned practice of overdraft fees on debit cards, but customers can still be charged for being overdrawn on checking accounts by writing too many checks or having too many debits through automated bill-pay.

Just about when new rules take effect forcing banks to halt overdraft fees unless a customer opts-in, Bank of America has decided to do away with overdraft fees on debit card purchases altogether. The nation’s largest bank stands to lose tens of millions, or more, in fee revenue. And now may force top competitors to follow suit.

In the coming months, financial institutions will start providing consumers with notices on overdraft services, primarily the choice to “opt-in” before you can be hit with overdraft fees for ATM and one-time debit card transactions. If they don’t for new customers starting July 1, 2010, they will be in trouble with the Federal Reserve. The regulator and rule-making authority on protecting consumers from unreasonable bank fees is putting out the word through a new web page. Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions will be prohibited from charging overdraft fees for ATM and one-time debit card transactions, unless a customer consents. For existing customers, the institutions have until August 15 to comply.

A day after its dominant rival posted higher-than-expected earnings, MasterCard came in below analysts’ estimates with a 23 percent profit increase for the fourth quarter. The No. 2 card payments network saw single-digit growth in both dollar volume and processed transactions, compared to double-digit increases in transactions reported this week from rival Visa.

Visa, the world’s largest electronic payment network, beat forecasts and reported a fiscal first quarter profit jump of 33 percent, with its growth in debit card payment transactions outpacing credit cards by 72 percent. Visa’s numbers shows that consumers continue to rely more on debit cards and are holding off on reviving credit card revolving debt as the economy continues to struggle.

Blippy, the Twitter-like social media site that displays how much you’ve spent and what you’ve purchased with your credit or debit card is now live to the general public. Blippy has been tried by about 5,000 people in invite-only beta testing, but this week Blippy started scrolling live its users’ purchases. When you sign up, you can attach a credit or debit card to the service and let your followers know the song you picked up on iTunes or movie on Netflix — well, you get the idea.

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer watchdog, would like social media users to help alert Christmas shoppers of credit scams and provide tips to protect cash, gift cards and private information. The FTC today made the “12 tweets of Christmas” available on its website.

Surveys are finding that 2009 will see more folks than ever returning to work on Cyber Monday and looking for Christmas shopping deals from their desks, a practice unwelcome by their employers but much anticipated by online retailers. The majority of online retailers will feature special promotions for Cyber Monday, with 72.2 percent planning a special promotion, up from 42.7 percent just two years ago. A quarter of retailers will offer free shipping on all purchases.

With Black Friday a few days away, the credit card industry is bracing for a gloomy forecast: Up to one-third fewer Americans say they will put gifts on plastic this holiday season. More shoppers are planning to use debit cards and cash, instead of credit cards, when purchasing gifts.