How much will you pay? – Charlie Weston’s comparison on current account bank fees
BANKS are back to their old trick of increasing the charges for running a current account.
Both Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank have angered customers by announcing changes that will mean more people will get caught paying fees.
Remember, switching banks is actually a relatively easy process due to The Central Bank’s Switching Code.
This means switches have to be completed by the bank within a 10-day time frame. This includes the transfer of all direct debits and standing orders.
So how do the current account providers compare?
Bank of Ireland
Customers get hit with some high fees and charges for operating a day-to-day bank account.
There is a 20c fee for ATM withdrawals and a 10c charge for most other day-to-day transactions such as chip and pin, self-service lodgments, online transactions and for any direct debits or standing orders presented on the account. Contactless transactions are just €0.01 for now.
These fees can be avoided if you keep a balance of €3,000 in the account at all times.
And all current account holders get charged €5 a quarter, even if they are always €3,000 in credit.
Customers can avail of a new cashback rewards schemes called Live Life Rewards, which offers deals and discounts for using a debit card.
However, the bank has been criticised for not offering Apple Pay or Google Pay.
It will cost you a small fortune to operate an AIB current account unless you can keep €2,500 in your account at all time.
Failing to do this will mean a host of charges. Among them is a quarterly charge of €4.50. Other fees include 35c for ATM withdrawals, and 20c for most transactions such as chip and pin payments, self-service lodgments and any direct debits presented.
AIB’s mobile app is rated by price comparison site Bonkers.ie as one of the better ones in the market. And the bank offers Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Its Everyday Rewards scheme offers discounts and deals for using a debit card.
The bank is set to get just as expensive as AIB and Bank of Ireland when it introduces transactions charges from April.
Currently Ulster Bank charges its current account customers a monthly maintenance fee of €4, but it has no transactions charges for the likes of ATM withdrawals or for paying with a debit card.
It will reduce the monthly maintenance fee to €2, but will charge customers transactions fees for using the current account for their day-to-day banking.
The bank will impose a 20c charge for the likes of direct debit payments, point of sale transactions, and electronic payments into and out of the account using online, telephone and mobile banking.
ATM withdrawals will generate a fee of 35c, with 1c charged on contactless transactions and 80c for paper or staff-assisted transactions.
And there will be an 80c charge for cheque transactions, in addition to the government stamp duty of 50c.
It is changing the rules for those with its older current accounts, in a move that will mean thousands of them will end up paying fees.
The new terms and conditions will make it harder to qualify for fee-free banking.
Customers who do not qualify for free banking will have to pay €18 a quarter. This works out at €72 a year for using current accounts.
Changes will also see a reduction in interest paid for credit balances, and new overdraft fees.
The bank said there will be a new fee of €25 for setting up an overdraft facility or renewing one. Permanent is also cutting the interest rate it pays on credit balances in the accounts. Currently, the bank pays 0.25pc on balances up to €1,500. The new rate is 0.01pc.
The bank is imposing the changes on those who have legacy current accounts, and not to its flagship Explore Account which was introduced three years ago.
Explore Account has been the only current account the bank offers to new customers or to existing customers opening a new current account.
With Explore you can make a profit when it comes to fees. There is a €4 monthly account maintenance fee, but all day-to-day banking is free.
And you can earn 10c back every time you use your debit card to pay for something in store or online. You can earn up to €5 per month through this feature alone.
Customers who keep a balance of €2,500 in the standard KBC account can avoid fees. Otherwise, there is a 30c charge for ATM withdrawals and with the same charged for processing a cheque.
With the Extra current account, all day-to-day banking is free if you just lodge €2,500 a month. There is no overdraft setup fee and you will also receive preferential rates of interest on your savings account and mortgage that you hold with the bank.
The bank offers Google Pay, Apple Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay, while its IT capability allows you to apply for a current account online.
A new player in the market, An Post is considered expensive by Bonkers.ie. Its current account has a monthly maintenance fee of €5. The ATM withdrawal fee is 60c. All other day-to-day transactions are free.
There is a chance to offset these costs by earning money back by using their An Post debit card to make purchases in a partnered businesses. Customers can get 5pc back on a Lidl shop over €25 and SSE Airtricity customers can get 10pc off their bill when they pay by direct debit from the account.
German fintech N26 is a digital bank with a licence to operate here. Lauded for its mobile app, you can open an account in minutes using it. The app supports Goode Pay and Apple Pay.
There is no monthly fee and all day-to-day transactions are free. But you are only allowed five free ATM withdrawals a month. After that there pricey €2 charge per withdrawal.
Cash and cheque transactions are not permitted. A big plus is that there are no foreign exchange fees if you are using a non-Euro currency.
When you open an account you get an IBAN and IBEC number, meaning you can get paid into the account by your Irish employer and set up direct debits and standing orders just like with any other Irish bank account.
Which is best?
Both N26 and the Permanent TSB Explore accounts get the thumbs up from Bonkers.ie’s Daragh Cassidy. KBC is also good value but only if you can lodge €2,500 in the account on a monthly basis.
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