In a move that's sure to anger customers, AIB will start charging 1 cent for contactless payments from 30th May while also making it harder for account holders to avoid other day-to-day fees.
*The planned contactless charge has been delayed due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
AIB is joining Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank in charging its current account customers 1 cent for every contactless transaction. The payments had previously been free. As well as this, AIB is making it harder for customers to avoid other day-to-day banking fees.
Previously, AIB customers could avoid all day-to-day banking charges like chip and pin fees and ATM withdrawal charges if they kept €2,500 in their account at all times. This waiver is being removed from 30th May also, meaning you could be hit with a host of new fees and charges for managing your money.
What’ll the damage be?
Well let’s say you used to keep €2,500 in your account and you’re an average customer making five ATM withdrawals, five chip and pin transactions, 10 direct debits and 31 contactless payments per month, you’ll now be charged €6.56 a month or almost €80 a year.
What are AIB’s current account fees and charges?
Quarterly maintenance fee
ATM withdrawal fee
Chip & Pin fee
Online banking transactions
DD / SO fee
Can I avoid the fees?
There are still a few ways you can avoid fees if you’re an AIB current account customer.
Student accounts, graduate accounts, accounts for those over 66 years of age and AIB’s Basic Bank Account will continue to be free of day-to-day charges. Also, people who pay their AIB mortgage from an AIB current account will continue to avoid these fees.
Why the change?
AIB hasn’t given an official reason. However all the major banks have reported reduced profits recently and are obviously looking to generate revenue from elsewhere.
Part of this is due to the current low interest-rate environment, with banks now being charged to deposit money with the ECB. Ostensibly this is to encourage the banks to lend more and thereby stimulate growth. However the flip side of this, in Ireland at least, is that these negative rates are leading to weaker profitability for the banks who are now trying to boost profits by charging higher fees elsewhere.
With the ECB likely to push rates further into negative territory in the coming weeks due to the coronavirus, more fees and charges may only be a matter of time.
A kick in the teeth for consumers
As readers of bonkers.ie will be well aware we still have among the highest mortgage rates in the Eurozone. We also have the lowest returns for savers and we increasingly have some of the highest day-to-day banking fees too, so this feels like a real kick in the teeth for consumers.
The new charge for contactless transactions, although small, is also worrying because AIB is now the third bank to charge for these and the fear is that this charge is only going to increase in the coming years as we get more used to ‘tap and pay’. It also flies in the face of banks' desire to get us to move towards a less cash-based society.
What can I do?
If you’re not happy with today’s news from AIB then switch.
The level of switching in the current account market is still chronically low at less than 1% and this is why banks can get away with charging so much. But if you’re not happy with your current service then go elsewhere. There are now 10 current account providers in Ireland so there’s never been more choice. See here for our review of all the main providers in Ireland.
What’s more, a few years ago the Central Bank introduced a code of practice for switching current accounts so the process isn’t as difficult as people might think. And given that you could save up to €150 a year depending on usage, it’ll be worth it.
Also don’t forget to check out the newer alternatives from ‘digital-only’ banks such as N26 and Revolut. These new banks offer a host of fun and novel services, allow you to sign up in minutes online, offer great value, and for all intents and purposes work just like a traditional current account”. See here for our in-depth review on how both these accounts compare.