Ulster Bank customers face higher charges from Friday

Users of services including ATMs, chip cards could pay €47 more a month, research says

Low-frequency users may save money, but medium- and high-frequency users will pay more for the bank’s services. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Low-frequency users may save money, but medium- and high-frequency users will pay more for the bank’s services. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Many Ulster Bank customers are set to pay more to use the bank’s facilities under a new fee structure which comes into effect on Friday.

High-frequency users of Ulster Bank’s contactless, chip-and-pin, direct-debit, ATM withdrawal and online facilities will face extra fees of up to €47 a month, according to analysis from price comparison and consumer website Bonkers.ie.

Under the old fee structure, customers paid €4 per month. After that, day-to-day banking was free, which meant there were no charges for direct debits, ATM withdrawals or for using bank cards.

The change in the bank’s fee structure will mirror that at rivals AIB and Bank of Ireland.

“It definitely won’t be a Good Friday for Ulster Bank customers as its new fee structure will see the majority of account holders pay more for their banking each month,” said Daragh Cassidy, head of communications at Bonkers.ie.

“We still have among the highest mortgage rates in the euro zone and now we have some of the highest day-to-day banking fees too, so this feels like a real kick in the teeth for consumers,” he said.

Ulster Bank’s maintenance fee will fall to €2 per month while ATM withdrawals will attract a charge of 35c, chip and pin will cost 20c and contactless fees will be 1c per transaction.

While Bonkers.ie estimates that this will save a low user about €5.28 a year, medium- and high-frequency users will face extra fees ranging from €23 to €47. Those figures don’t include the monthly maintenance fee.

“Ulster Bank wrote to current account customers earlier this year to inform them of changes to their fees that will make things clearer and more transparent,” a spokesman said.

“Customers can avoid transactions fees by maintaining a minimum balance of €3,000 in their account. Customers aged 66 and over will continue to benefit from maintenance and transaction fee-free banking.”

Ulster Bank’s fees are in line with some of the larger players in the Republic. AIB charges a €4.50 transaction fee per quarter and nothing for contactless payments. These fees can be avoided if an account holder has a minimum of €2,500 in their account each quarter.

Bank of Ireland has a similar arrangement and charges €5 per quarter while fees can be avoided with a minimum of €3,000 in the account per month.

Permanent TSB, meanwhile, has a more competitive offering for new customers with a maintenance fee of €4 per month. However, customers receive 10c back per contactless transaction up to €5 per month. They don’t get charged on ATM withdrawals or for automated transactions.

KBC Bank Ireland charges €6 per quarter and 30c for ATM withdrawals. It doesn’t charge for automated transactions or contactless payments.

The cheapest account appears to be the MoneyManager account from EBS, which has no maintenance or transaction fees. Online bank N26 also offers an account with no maintenance fee and no transaction fees with the exception of ATM withdrawals which cost €2 per transaction.