Although truly fee-free banking has been consigned to the past, there are still steps you can take to keep your fees at a minimum, or in a few cases avoid them altogether if you are able to meet certain criteria. In this article we look at each of Ireland’s major banks’ current account fees and fee waivers to show you the best way to keep your banking costs down.
How to reduce/avoid fees, bank by bank
What are AIB’s fees?
AIB charges €18 in annual maintenance fees, 35 cent for every ATM withdrawal and 20 cent for debit card transactions. Currently AIB doesn't charge for contactless transactions.
That’s a lot of numbers! Let’s put them into context. Let’s say in a month you make 20 debit card transactions (this includes using chip and pin, any direct debits or standing orders, or any other automated transactions) and 4 ATM withdrawals. This will cost you a grand total of €6.90, which of course adds up to €82.80 over the course of a year. Not ideal. Fortunately, there are ways to cut fee costs with AIB.
How to avoid fees with AIB
There are two ways to avoid fees with AIB:
Maintain €2,500 in your current account at all times
Take out a mortgage with AIB
What are KBC’s fees?
KBC charges €24 a year in maintenance fees and 30 cent for every ATM withdrawal but debit card transactions (including contactless) are free.
So that means again, if you make 20 debit transactions and 4 ATM withdrawals in one month you’re looking at a total of €3.20 which adds up to a yearly cost of €38.40.
How to avoid fees with KBC:
With KBC's standard current account you can avoid ATM withdrawal fees and cheque lodgement fees if you maintain €2,000 in your account at all times but you'll still have to pay quarterly maintenance fees.
If you lodge €2,500 into your account every month with KBC's Current Account Extra you can avoid all fees and charges.
What are Bank of Ireland’s fees?
Bank of Ireland charges an unavoidable annual maintenance fee of €20, 25 cent per ATM withdrawal and 10 cent per debit transaction. Currently, Bank of Ireland is the only bank that charges for contactless transactions, at 1 cent per transaction.
Continuing with our example, if you make 20 debit transactions and 4 ATM withdrawals in one month you will be charged a total of €4.67. This adds up to €56.04 in one year.
How to avoid fees with Bank of Ireland:
You can avoid all of Bank of Ireland’s transaction fees if you maintain €3,000 in your current account at all times.
What are Ulster Bank’s fees?
Ulster Bank charges €48 a year in maintenance fees, which you will note is much higher than the other banks so far, but it doesn’t charge anything for ATM or debit card transactions, including contactless.
In one month you’ll pay €4 for the same example of 20 debit transactions and 4 ATM withdrawals. So you’ll only be paying the €48 for your maintenance fees per year.
How to avoid fees with Ulster Bank:
You can get fee-free banking with Ulster Bank by keeping €3,000 on deposit at all times.
What are Permanent TSB’s fees?
Permanent TSB is the only bank on the list that is doing something a little different when it comes to their current account fees.
The bank charges €48 for 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. Permanent TSB doesn't charge for ATM withdrawals.
So in a month in which you make 20 debit transactions and 4 ATM withdrawals you’ll pay €2 rather than €4 (after getting 10 cent cashback per transaction).
How to avoid fees with Permanent TSB:
Not only can you avoid Permanent TSB’s fees, you can actually make a profit of €12 a year if you make about 50 transactions a month using Permanent TSB’s Explore account!
Top tips for avoiding fees:
Avoid ATMs when you can
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 (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.
Treat your current account like a savings account
As we can see, a lot of banks offer the option of waiving all fees if you keep a certain amount of money on deposit at all times.
Given that savings accounts interest rates are so low at the moment, with three banks having cut their savings rates in the last 2 months, it might be worth your while treating your current account like a savings account. You might not earn interest but you’ll save yourself a lot in transaction fees!
Choose an account that suits your spending 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.
When reviewing the above rules for avoiding fees with each bank, make sure 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.
Current Accounts Week
Don’t forget that it’s Current Accounts Week here at bonkers.ie and we’re out to shine a light on the facts and myths that surround current accounts in Ireland right now. So, let us know your questions!
We’ll be hosting a LIVE Facebook Q&A this Friday, May 19th at 1pm to talk current accounts in-depth.
To have your question answered in our live Q&A, just tweet us using #askbonkers, email us at email@example.com or leave a comment below this piece.