PTSB hikes up the cost of its Explore current account by 50%

Move will make it more difficult for customers to qualify for free banking

Permanent TSB is set to increase the fixed monthly fee for its Explore current account by 50 per cent this summer, thus making it more difficult for customers to qualify for free banking.

The bank has told its customers that as of August 1st, 2019, the flat €4 monthly fee for maintaining the account will jump to €6, or from €48 to €72 on an annual basis. The bank has seen strong growth in money held in current accounts of late; last year for example, growth of 12 per cent saw current account deposits reach €4.2 billion.

PTSB describes the Explore account, which is now the only current account the bank offers its new customers, as a “revolution” in everyday banking, as it offers three ways of of benefiting.

Money back

Firstly, customers can get money back offers through the bank’s GoRewards scheme it operates with Visa; secondly, every time you pay with your card in-store or online, you’ll get 10c back, up to €5 a month; and finally, you can get up to 5 per cent cashback when you pay certain bills by direct debit.


But even if the sums didn’t always work in customers’ favour when the charge was just €4, many customers will now be wondering if they’re going to end up paying for their current accounts come August.

The move to the bank’s Explore account follows changes to its standard range of current accounts.

Earlier this year the bank made it more difficult for thousands of its current account customers to benefit from free banking, when it targeted its legacy accounts. While new customers of the bank must open an Explore account, thousands of its existing customers have opted to remain in a standard current account. However, while previously, these customers could avoid a €18 quarterly fee by having their salary paid into their account, or keeping €1,000 in it, PTSB upped the requirements from March of this year. This means that unless customers keep €2,500 in their current accounts at all times, they will face a quarterly fee of €18.

Free banking

It is now increasingly difficult for Irish current account customers to avoid current account fees. Bank of Ireland for example, imposes a flat quarterly fee of €5, although transaction charges can be avoided by keeping €3,000 in the account at all times.

With Ulster Bank and AIB, you can avoid charges – but you must keep €3,000 and €2,500, respectively, in the account .

Earlier this month KBC Bank made it easier for its customers to qualify for free banking when it cut the amount customers need to get lodged to their account from €2,500 a month, to €2,000.

EBS is one of the few to now offer free banking, although it doesn't offer a cheque book or digital payment options on this account; digital start-ups N26 and Revolut both offer "free" current accounts, but costs do still apply, depending on your usage.

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan is a writer specialising in personal finance and is the Home & Design Editor of The Irish Times