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Banking

KBC to make it easier for customers to qualify for free banking

Daragh Cassidy

Daragh Cassidy

Head Writer

KBC has thrown down the gauntlet to the competition in the current account sector by making it easier for customers to avoid fees on its Extra account. 

It’s been a pretty rough few months for current account customers in Ireland.

Back in April Ulster Bank introduced new fees for a host of day-to-day transactions and in May Permanent TSB revealed that it was increasing the monthly fee on its Explore Account by 50% from 1st August.

So it’s nice to hear some good news on the current account front for once as KBC has announced that it’s making it easier for customers to avoid fees on its flagship Extra Current Account.  

What’s changing? 

At present KBC customers can avoid all day-to-day transaction fees if they lodge at least €2,500 every month. However, you’d need to be earning a salary of around €37,000 a year to meet this requirement, meaning workers on more average salaries would have been unable to avoid fees with the account.  

From the end of June that’s changing as the monthly lodgement requirement is being reduced to €2,000.

Two thousand euro equates to a salary of around €28,000 a year, meaning the prospect of fee-free banking will open up to far more customers.   

Commenting on the new change, Director of Products at KBC Fergal O’Riagain says: “At KBC, we want to provide the kind of convenience, value and transparency that people need in their everyday banking lives. Which is why from the end of June, KBC Extra Current Account holders who make a monthly lodgement of €2,000 will also be able to avail of fee-free banking, with no requirement to continually maintain a minimum balance. This reduction in the monthly lodgement amount will no doubt increase the number of KBC customers who avail of free day-to-day banking, which is currently six in every 10 KBC customers today.

Are there any other fees?

If you’re able to lodge €2,000 into your account each month then all your day-to-day banking will be free. So there’ll be no charge for things like ATM withdrawals, chip and pin transactions, contactless transactions, direct debits and standing orders or online transactions.  

However there’ll still be fees for things like using your card abroad in a non-eurozone country or for any unpaid direct debits and standing orders. However these fees are pretty standard across all banks and accounts.

Do I need to maintain a minimum balance?

The good news is that as long as you lodge €2,000 into your account each month, either in one go or in several lodgements, there’s no need to maintain a minimum balance.

So whether you’re a big spender who likes to go on a splurge as soon as you get paid, or more of a saver who has lots left over at the end of each month, there’s no need to worry about racking up extra fees just because you go below a certain balance. 

What about existing customers?

The new change will apply to both new and existing customers. So if you’re already a KBC Extra Current Account holder, then happy days! You don’t need to do anything and the change will be applied to your account before the end of the month. 

Anything else?

At present KBC is the only bank that offers mobile payments from ALL the main providers i.e. Apple Pay, Google Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay. This is pretty impressive when you consider that two banks (Permanent TSB and Bank of Ireland) still don’t offer customers any mobile payment options whatsoever.

What’s more, KBC even introduced Wena Pay from Sony a few months ago. While definitely a niche service for now, it’s great to see a bank embrace digital technologies so wholeheartedly.

And on the subject of digital technology, KBC was also the first bank here to embrace the capabilities of PSD2.

PSD2 is a landmark European Union legislation which aims to promote transparency, competition and innovation in the banking sector. On the back of the legislation KBC now allows people who have a current account with either AIB or Bank of Ireland to view these accounts directly through the KBC app.

KBC is also the only bank that charges nothing for setting up an overdraft, with charges ranging from €25 to €30 a year at all the other banks.

And while we’d always encourage people not to get into debt if at all possible, it’s nice to know that if you ever need to set up an overdraft to cope with life’s little emergencies you’re not going to be stung with a hefty charge for doing so.       

If all that’s not enough, you’ll also get preferential rates of interest on KBC mortgages and loans.  

Comparison of main current account providers in Ireland 

AIB

BOI

Ulster Bank

PTSB

KBC

N26

An Post

Maintenance fees (per annum)

€18

€20

€24

€72

€0.00 - if €2,000 a month lodged

€0.00

€60

ATM withdrawal fee 

€0.35

€0.25

€0.35

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.60

Chip and Pin fee

€0.20

€0.10

€0.20

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Online banking transactions  

€0.20

€0.10

€0.20

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Direct debit/standing order fee 

€0.20

€0.10

€0.20

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Contactless fee

€0.00

€0.01

€0.01

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Google/Apple Pay

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

Perks

AIB Everyday Rewards scheme

Fitbit Pay

Live Life Rewards scheme

None

10c back as you pay

Up to 5% cashback on select bills

2% cashback on mortgage repayments

No overdraft set-up fee

Preferential rates on KBC savings and mortgage 

Fitbit and Garmin Pay

No foreign exchange fees

Earn money back on purchases with select shops

Avoid/reduce fees by

Maintaining €2,500 balance

Maintaining €3,000 balance

Maintaining €3,000 balance 

Making up to 50 card transactions a month 

Lodging €2,000 every month

Not making more than 5 ATM withdrawals a month

N/A

Is this account right for me?

If you earn around €28,000 or more a year and are happy to have your wage paid into your account each month, then it’s hard to fault the KBC Extra account. However if you can’t commit to lodging €2,000 a month there may be a cheaper account out there for you.

As always, we recommend that you compare fees and charges across all banks before making any decision. And you can do that right now for free on bonkers.ie with our easy-to-use current account comparison service

How do I switch current account?

We're notoriously bad at switching banking products in Ireland so it's no wonder mortgage rates and banking fees and charges here are so high.

But if you're sick of opening up your current account statement every quarter to see all the money that's going to be taken from your account, then look at switching provider as there's never been more choice.

There are a few steps involved in switching bank account but it’s not as much hassle as people seem to think and could save you up to €150 a year in fees.

See here for information on how to switch.

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