Bank charges back with a vengeance
The newly designated ‘pillar banks’ are back to their old ways and charging significant transaction fees – even though taxpaying customers are the pillars the banks rest upon, writes KEVIN CASEY
MUCH LIKE death and taxes, banks are unavoidable. Even when they try their damndest to do themselves in, the superhero State comes to the rescue, swooping in and lifting them out of danger just before they hit the rocks.
And the banks’ way of showing gratitude? Bringing back fees and charges on their ever-supportive customers.
In 2005, new entrants to the Irish banking market forced the hand of the old guard and all the major banks abolished account charges.
In 2012, that brief era of competition which ended so disastrously is over. Now the newly designated “pillar banks” are back to their old ways and charging significant banking fees – even though taxpaying customers are the pillars on which the banks rest.
In March, Bank of Ireland reintroduced charges and AIB is bringing them in at the end of May. Millions of people glancing down at their current account statements are getting a nasty little surprise as they see a line about bank fees stuck in the debit column. It’s quite the little kicker.
The new Bank of Ireland charges for a standard personal account cover the full range of everyday activities including ATM withdrawals, debit-card transactions and lodgments.
It does not have a standing charge and is offering two payment options. “Pay as you Go” with a 28c charge for every transaction or “flat fee” which is €11.40 per quarter. This “flat fee” set-up is limited to 90 transactions over a three-month period. Any additional transactions are charged at 28c each.
If you think you’re likely to make more than 40 transactions in a three-month period, then accepting the €11.40 (€45.60 pa) rate is recommended by the bank. However, don’t forget that this rate allows only 90 transactions (which is one transaction a day on average) before additional charges kick in.
And that’s without getting into direct debits, standing orders or other fancy stuff.
For married couples and joint account holders, under normal circumstances it is unlikely to take a full quarter to reach the 90-transaction threshold.
Possibly as some kind of marketing ploy, the Bank of Ireland is touting a “no transaction fees” offer.
The deal here is that you have to maintain a balance of €3,000 in your current account for the duration and run at least €3,000 through the account per quarter (say, your salary), as well as contrive to manually perform nine payments, to qualify for free banking.