Want to cut the cost of bank fees, read this!

Since the peak of the credit crunch in late 2008, the primary means of generating revenue and profits at banks has been the introduction of a raft of fees and charges. This has resulted in a decrease in banking convenience and a rise in costly banking services for all.

101 smart money tips
101 smart money tips

And while banks have variously introduced some limited means of avoiding fees, this is only possible by keeping a chunk of cash on deposit with the bank, something that is not possible for lots of families up and down the country.

Following are the range of fees and charges that banks do impose as well the limits that banks have set which result in fees are not charged.

 Comparison of Bank Charges in Ireland

All the main banks in Ireland now have some sort of transaction or admin fees  on current accounts.  There are still ways to avoid bank charges  – so here is a comparison of the various current account charges so you can work out which is the cheapest bank for you and where you can  get Free Banking.

Cheapest and easiest to avoid – PTSB & Ulster Bank 
The PTSB current account has a €12 quarterly account maintenance fee  but –  if you lodge at least €1500 every month you will not be charged the  fee. Ulster Bank charge  €4 per month maintenance fee – to avoid this fee you need to keep an account  balance of at least €3000 .

EBS Moneymanager – Cheapest Bank Account for low usage
EBS don’t currently charge any admin fees. They charge 30c for an ATM withdrawal or for a cash withdrawal in a branch . If you lodge at least €1,500 – or keep a balance of at least €500 they will not charge for the first 5 ATM withdrawals per month. EBS don’t currently charge for any other transactions.

AIB  – Higher Transaction Fees where it still possible to avoid.

AIB  charge the following amounts for transactions on current accounts.
Automated Transactions (Direct Debit/ Standing Orders)  20c.
ATM withdrawals  35c
Machine Lodgements 35c
Cheque Processing 39c
Debit Card Transaction  20c
Over the Counter Transaction  39c
They will also charge an admin fee of €4.50 per quarter.
All the above fees can be avoided at AIB by keeping a minimum of €2500 in the account at all times . Going below €2500 at any time in a quarter will result in charges being applied for the whole quarter.

Bank of Ireland – Sorry, but their €5 quarterly charge is unavoidable!
Bank of Ireland now charge all current account holders €5 per quarter . This charge cannot be avoided. On top of this – unless you keep at least €3000 in the account you will be charged transaction fees too. (But note that the bank currently does not apply fees on Golden Years, Graduate, 3rd Level student or 2nd Level student current accounts)
BOI Transaction fees
Automated Transactions (Direct Debit/ Standing Orders)  10c.
ATM withdrawals  25c
Machine Lodgements 25c
Debit Card Purchase Fee  10c
Over the Counter Transaction  60c
Cheque Processing Fee (per cheque) 60c

KBC – minimum €6 a quarter charge  (unavoidable).
Any customers whose daily balance goes below €2000 will also be charged an extra  30c for each ATM  transaction and  30 cent per cheque lodged in the quarter.

OK, so let’s assume you have a level of pretty normal banking activity and DO NOT keep the required monthly balances, how much would banking cost? For this comparison, I have assumed for the following activity levels:

Cheques Lodged 1
Direct Debits/ Standing Orders : 6
Debit Card Purchases :  45
ATM withdrawals  :  12
Counter transactions 2

(You can adjust for your own personal activity levels to reach your typical monthly banking activity).

Assuming the conditions for avoiding fees were not met…

AIB would charge the most – at €51.21 a quarter (€204.84 a year)
BOI is close behind at €34.70 per quarter (€138.80 a year)
KBC would charge €17.70 for the quarter (€70.80 a year)
EBS would charge €12.60 for the quarter. (€50.40 a year)
Ulster Bank would charge €12 for the quarter. (€48 a year)
PTSB would charge €12 for the quarter (€48 a year)

Comparison of banks current account fees IF  the balance is kept above the  relevant  limit.

EBS  (€500 limit)  Fee €6.30 per Quarter for ATM transactions (first 5 free)  (€25.20 a year)

KBC (€2000 limit)   – Fee €6 per quarter or €24 a year
BOI (€3000 limit)  : Fee €5 per quarter or €20 a year

Ulster Bank (€3000 Limit)  :  Zero
 (€1500 limit)  Zero
AIB (€2500 limit) : Fee  – Zero

So – it is still possible to get free banking at PTSB , AIB and Ulster Bank if you can manage to lodge a certain amount or keep your account balance above their limits.
Be careful with AIB because a fall in your balance to just  €2499 for just one day could end up costing you over €50 for one  quarter. (based on sample transactions above).

Other charges of note:

Replacing lost or damaged card:

AIB €0

BoI €8 (even for damaged card)

EBS €0 (but €5 for thereafter)

KBC €6


UB €0

Charged for Duplicate Statements (per page)

AIB €3.00

BoI €3.80

EBS €5.00

KBC €2.54

PTSB €2.50

UB €3.81

TIPS and Good Practice to eliminating bank fees:

  1. Make sure monthly repayments reach their destination on time
  2. Stop paying by cheque
  3. Keep sufficient balances in your bank account
  4. Forget loyalty and be prepared to switch – keep an eye other bank offers.
  5. Avoid unnecessary queries – yes, they charge for that…so look out!
  6. Avoid expensive ATM withdrawal fees when abroad – these can really add up!
  7. Avoid your bank account going into the red – banks charge a bundle.
  8. Keep good records – banks really know how to charge when it comes to providing duplicate copies of documents you already have, so try avoid losing them, in the end, it will be your personal account that will take the hit.
  9. Don’t lose your plastic – it’ really expensive to get a replacement card (never mind the hassle of filling out all those forms) so be careful…you’ll get your replacement card but you’ll lose out financially.

Frank Conway is founder of MoneyWhizz.org, the financial literacy website.

Data provided by NCA.ie to complete this report.

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