Golden age of Irish banks recedes further into future
Readers’ queries answered
From next February, Bank of Ireland customers must be 66 to qualify for free banking
One way of avoiding bank charges with Bank of Ireland has long been to get older. People with a Golden Years account do not incur the same fees as younger people and so can save about €120 a year. To qualify for a Golden Years account a person would have to reach the age of 60. Or so we thought. A reader by the name of Declan hit 60 in August and went to his Bank of Ireland branch on O’Connell Street in Dublin and requested a Golden Years account. “The staff member helped me fill out the form, and told me she’d process it immediately, and even congratulated me on reaching the magic 60,” he writes.
“The next afternoon, she telephoned me in a very embarrassed state, and explained that the age to reach now for the Golden Years account was 65 – the new rule having come into force the previous day,” he continues. “She told me she didn’t know about the rule change until the form came back to her from another official, and now she had to call and tell me. I explained I wouldn’t be around for my 65th, which, understandably, embarrassed her even more, but with a terminal heart condition the possibility of getting there is slim indeed,” he says.
“So, with little or nothing to lose, I wrote to the bank, asking them to consider again their decision in my case,” he continues. “I may be naïve, but I’m still awaiting a response . At the moment I have a Third Level account as I’ve just completed a three-year degree in DCU, but will have to give that up now that I’m a graduate. “
He does accept that the bank did not have to give him the Third Level account as he was not under 25 at the time “so I have enjoyed free banking for the last couple of years”. He points out that the Golden Years account “was never advertised, and never offered – a customer had to request it from the bank. Likewise, so far as I know, the new threshold of 65 was not advertised either, otherwise I would have made the extra effort to get in before the deadline. As it is, I missed this secret deadline by a few hours. I don’t know if you can do anything about this or not, but at least you could highlight the fact that the bank’s secret age is now 65.”
We contacted the bank to find out more. A spokeswoman confirmed that the bank was moving the age of entry for Golden Years free banking from 60 to 66 years of age from February 2014. She did not given a reason why other than to say it was moving into alignment with the State pension. She did, however, say our reader was misinformed and anyone aged 60-66 will still qualify for the Golden Years account if they apply before next February. She said the bank would be contact our reader directly to clarify things.