Don't overpay on your current account fees. Follow these simple steps and you'll have no nasty surprises when your quarterly statement arrives.
Although truly fee-free banking has been consigned to the past, there are still steps you can take to keep your fees to a minimum, or in a few cases avoid them altogether provided you're clever with how you use your account.
Here are 9 surprisingly easy ways to reduce your current account fees.
1. Avoid ATMs when you can
ATM withdrawal fees can be some of the highest fees charged by banks.
AIB charges 35 cent for every ATM withdrawal, An Post 60 cent, and N26 a whopping €2 (though you get three fee-free withdrawals a month).
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 (up to that €5 limit of course).
Taking out cash is sometimes unavoidable, so instead of going to an ATM, get cashback on purchases to avoid withdrawal fees.
2. Use contactless where possible
It's usually cheaper to pay by contactless, at least for now, with all current account providers charging nothing.
So tap and go whenever you can!
And remember that mobile payments like Google Pay and Apple Pay are charged as contactless transactions by all the banks. What's more, the €50 contactless limit doesn't apply to mobile payments, meaning you can pay for something over €50 by using your phone if you want - however some retailers using older terminals might still impose a €50 limit.
AIB, the Credit Union, KBC, N26, Permanent TSB and Revolut all offer Apple Pay and Google Pay while Revolut and AIB offer Fitbit Pay too.
3. Do as much of your banking online as possible
It’s usually quicker, easier and cheaper to do it yourself online - whether that's paying bills or amending standing orders etc.
For example an online transaction will cost you 20 cent with AIB. However an in-branch or staff-assisted transaction will cost you 39 cent instead.
Meanwhile, most changes to a standing order are free for AIB customers if they do it online, but will cost €2.50 to do in a branch.
4. Avoid cheques
Does anyone even use cheques anymore? If so avoid them - they’re an expensive and outdated method of payment and you'll also be hit with Government stamp duty of 50 cent per cheque.
Set up a direct debit/standing order or use your online banking to transfer money instead.
5. Look at the non-traditional digital banks like N26 and Revolut
We're big fans of N26 and Revolut here at bonkers.ie.
With both of these online-only banks all mobile, contactless, and chip and pin transactions are free and there's no account maintenance fees either. They both have a brilliant mobile app, support Apple and Google Pay, and allow you to open a bank account online in just minutes through the app.
However they may not be for you if you use a lot of cash as heavy fees apply. As mentioned, you only get three fee-free ATM withdrawals a month with N26, after which a €2 fee applies, and with Revolut you're only allowed withdraw a maximum of €200 a month, after this a €1 or 2% commission fee applies - whichever is higher.
N26 now has almost 200,000 customers in Ireland and operates here on a European Passport (a banking licence granted by the German regulator and the ECB). They're covered by the German deposit guarantee scheme and are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules. Meanwhile Revolut has over 1 million customers in Ireland.
When you've opened your account you'll get your IBAN and BIC immediately, meaning you can get paid into the account from Ireland and set up direct debits and standing orders just like any other Irish bank account.
What's more, N26 charges no foreign exchange fees on non-euro card payments, while with Revolut there's a generous €1,000 a month limit. So if you use your card in the UK or the States for example you won’t be charged the 1.5% – 3.0% transaction fee that you’d be charged with most other banks.
If you’re withdrawing cash abroad, N26 will charge you a 1.7% fee while Revolut allows you withdraw the equivalent of €200 a month at no charge, after which a 2% fee is added. Both these fees are way more competitive than the 3-4% fee you’d be charged with the traditional Irish banks.
For more information on the differences between N26 and Revolut, read our blog post on it here.
6. Know the rules around your bank's fees and charges
Most of the banks still offer ways to reduce some fees and charges.
How to avoid fees with AIB:
Use contactless over chip and pin and refrain from taking out cash.
If you have a mortgage with AIB and pay it back from your AIB current account you'll get free day-to-day banking.
How to avoid fees with Bank of Ireland:
The €6 monthly fee can't be avoided but it covers all day-to-day spending so you shouldn't go over in it most cases.
How to avoid fees with An Post:
- Take money out from an An Post office where you get one free cash withdrawal a week.
How to avoid fees with Permanent TSB
Permanent TSB is the only main bank that is doing something a little different when it comes to its current account fees. The bank charges a €6 monthly account fee for all your day-to-day banking but will pay you back 10 cent every time you pay for something with your debit card either in a shop or online (either by chip and pin or contactless). The amount you can make back is capped at €5 a month. So if you make just under two transactions on average with your card each day, you can recoup most of your fees.
- If you pay certain bills by Direct Debit from your Explore account you'll receive cashback of up to 5% on those bills.
7. Make sure you have the right account
Most providers offer free day-to-day banking to students, graduates or those over the age of 66.
However if you fit into one of these categories it's usually up to you to let your bank know that you qualify for free fees.
8. Avoid referral fees
If a direct debit, standing order or cheque is presented onto your account and you don't have sufficient funds, your bank will charge you a 'referral fee', which can be as high as €12.70 for each failed payment. Yikes! (The only exception to this is BOI whose €6 monthly fee includes this fee).
So not only are referral fees bad for your credit rating, they're bad for your wallet too. So avoid racking up these huge charges by making sure you've enough money in your account at all times.
9. Make the switch
You don't have to put up with your current bank's fees and charges. Despite the impending exits of both Ulster Bank and KBC, there are still currently eight providers of current account services in Ireland.
Use our handy current account comparison service to quickly compare the different account features and charges from all of Ireland’s account providers.
And if you decide to switch, read our article on all the things you need to know.
Looking to save more money?
Are you hoping to reduce your spending on other bills too? We’ve compiled a list of helpful articles and guides that will help you do just that, and with inflation on the rise, it’s best to be wary of your expenses.
- If you’re one of many people still working from home, you may have noticed that household bills are increasing because of it. We’ve collated a list of 12 ways to save money while working from home.
- A lot of us don’t realise the impact our everyday habits have on both our electricity bills and the environment. Being energy efficient is surprisingly easy to do, so we’ve put together a list of 15 ways you can use less electricity and save yourself money.
- Home insurance and contents insurance is essential to protect our valuables, but you shouldn’t have to overpay unnecessarily. Read more about how you can reduce your home insurance costs here.
- Switching mortgage may seem like a bit of a hassle, but it can actually save you a lot of money in the long run! For more information on how much you can save by switching mortgage, take a look at our recent blog on the topic.
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