Most of Ireland’s banks offer fee-free banking to customers, but only when certain criteria are met. Do you know your bank's rules for fee-free banking?
The Central Bank recently revealed that there were over 5,000 customer complaints made about current account fees in the first half of 2016. With some banks charging €48 a year in maintenance fees and others charging 35 cent every time you take cash out of an ATM, the high level of complaints may not surprise you.
Despite the re-introduction of current account fees over the last few years, all of Ireland's banks now offer ways for customers to either reduce or remove fees altogether. So are the complaints justified?
How to avoid fees, bank by bank
AIB charges €18 in annual maintenance fees, along with transaction fees of 35 cent for every ATM withdrawal and 20 cent for every debit card transaction. The bank was also due to introduce a 20 cent charge for contactless transactions from late February but look likely to extend that deadline.
You can avoid the maintenance fee and all transaction fees if you keep a minimum of €2,500 on deposit during each quarter.
KBC charges €24 a year in maintenance fees, 30 cent for every ATM withdrawal but debit card transactions (including contactless) are free.
If you lodge €2,500 into your account every month, you’ll avoid all of these fees.
Bank of Ireland
Bank of Ireland charges annual maintenance fees of €20, which cannot be avoided.
The bank also charges 25 cent for ATM withdrawals, 10 cent for debit card purchases and 1 cent for every contactless payment, but you can avoid these transaction fees by keeping €3,000 in your current account at all times.
Ulster Bank charges €48 a year in maintenance fees, but doesn’t charge anything for ATM or debit card uses, including contactless.
You can get fee-free banking with Ulster Bank by keeping €3,000 on deposit at all times.
Permanent TSB does things a bit differently with its Explore Account.
The bank charges €48 in annual maintenance fees but will pay you 10 cent back every time you pay for something with your debit card, either in a shop or online. The amount you can make back is capped at €5 a month. There are no charges or cashback for ATM withdrawals.
So, with Permanent TSB’s Explore Account, you can actually make a €12 profit in a year, but you’ll have to make 50 transactions every month to do so. Customers should be careful to avoid buying things they don’t need just to hit their monthly transaction target!
As you can see, ATM withdrawal fees are some of the highest being charged by banks these days. And there's more: in the 2016 Budget, the Government introduced a 12 cent stamp duty on every ATM withdrawal, capped at €5 a year.
This means that you’ll be charged 12 cent on top of what your bank charges every time you use an ATM.
The key tip here is to get cashback on your purchases instead of going to an ATM. Those little holes in the wall can leave big holes in your pocket over the course of a year.
An account to suit your habits
Ireland’s main banks all provide ways to either reduce or avoid fees, but one bank’s criteria may be a lot easier for you to meet than another’s.
It's important to be aware of what each bank’s rules are for avoiding fees and to pick a current account that best suits your natural spending and saving habits.
You can compare all current accounts available on our Compare Current Accounts page now.