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Which bank has the best current account?

Banks are finally starting to get a bit interesting when it comes to their current accounts offerings. Is it time to make a switch? Check out our comparison of all of Ireland’s major current accounts and find out.

Current account switching rates in Ireland are incredibly low at just 0.06% - and have been for quite some time. Unlike with other essential household services such as energy, broadband, phone and TV, as a nation we tend to harbour incredible inertia when it comes to switching financial institutions and current accounts in particular.

For many of us, our parents choose a bank for us in childhood, or we sign up to whoever is offering the best freebies during Freshers week in college. Either way, once we’ve signed up, for most of us, whichever bank has us - has us for life.   

At bonkers.ie we want to change this!

Perceptions about switching banks are largely negative with a lot of people worried that the process will be difficult, that they’ll lose direct debits, miss mortgage payments and will have to wait a long time to get new cards.

Despite what you might think, switching banks is actually a relatively easy process thanks to The Central Bank’s Switching Code, which ensures that switches have to be completed by the bank within a ten-day time frame; and this includes the transfer of all direct debits and standing orders.

In the last year, banks have finally started to show a bit of innovation in their current account offerings after several years of inactivity and rising fees. With competition increasing, there's never been a better time to reassess what your bank is offering you to see if you’d benefit from making a switch.

Below you’ll find a comparison of Ireland’s major current accounts to give you a better idea of who’s offering what.

AIB

One of the biggest and most popular banks in Ireland, AIB has shaken up its current account offering in the last year by being one of the first banks to introduce both Google Pay (formerly Android Pay) and Apple Pay as well as its new dedicated loyalty rewards scheme AIB Everyday Rewards which presents debit cardholders with new deals and discounts off various goods and services every week.

Maintenance fees (per annum)

ATM withdrawal fee

Debit card transaction fee

Contactless fee

Google/Apple Pay

Perks

Avoid fees by

€18

€0.35

€0.20

€0.00

Yes

AIB Everyday Rewards Scheme

Keeping a minimum deposit of €2,500 at all times.

Bank of Ireland

Though Bank of Ireland recently introduced a new cashback rewards scheme called "Live Life Rewards" which is similar to AIB's "Everyday Rewards", the bank has been slow to take up the slack where technology is concerned compared to other banks. It is currently the only bank to charge for contactless payments (although this fee remains low at just €0.01 per transaction) and it has yet to show any signs of introducing Google or Apple Pay. Other than that, its fees are competitive enough but be warned; there is no way to avoid the annual €20 maintenance fee - even if you maintain a minimum deposit of €3,000.

Maintenance fees (per annum)

ATM withdrawal fee

Debit card transaction fee

Contactless fee

Google/Apple Pay

Perks

Avoid fees by

€20

€0.25

€0.10

€0.01

No

Live Life Rewards scheme

Keeping a minimum deposit of €3,000 at all times.

Ulster Bank

Ulster Bank’s maintenance fees are a little on the high side but these are compensated by the refreshing fact that the bank has no day-to-day transaction fees (and these can really add up over time). The bank also introduced both Google Pay and Apple Pay in recent months, keeping up with current trends and customer demands.

Maintenance fees (per annum)

ATM withdrawal fee

Debit card transaction fee

Contactless fee

Google/Apple Pay

Perks

Avoid fees by

€48

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Yes

None

Keeping a minimum deposit of €3,000 at all times.

Permanent TSB

Permanent TSB’s Explore Account is the only current account on the market that allows you to actually make a profit when it comes to fees. With an Explore Account debit card, you can earn 10 cent back on every transaction you make. The amount you can earn back is capped at €5 per month. If you hit that cap every month, you can offset all of your maintenance fees and make an annual profit of €12! Not bad.

Maintenance fees (per annum)

ATM withdrawal fee

Debit card transaction fee

Contactless fee

Google/Apple Pay

Perks

Avoid fees by

€48

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

No

Permanent TSB GoRewards Scheme

Earn 10 cent back on every debit card transaction (capped at €5 per month)

KBC    

KBC is holding steadfast to its commitment to provide a customer-centric, digital-first strategy with its current account offerings. It was one of the first banks to make it possible to apply for and open an account online, introduce both Google Pay and Apple Pay and most recently, it became the first bank to launch FitBit Pay

Maintenance fees (per annum)

ATM withdrawal fee

Debit card transaction fee

Contactless fee

Google/Apple Pay

Perks

Avoid fees by

€24

€0.30

€0.00

€0.00

Yes, + FitBit Pay

Free €5 when you open an account using new app

Lodging €2,500 every month

An Post

The newest current account available on this list, An Post launched its Smart Account in June 2017. A welcome non-bank option for day-to-day banking, the Smart Account leans on the more expensive side, with both the most expensive maintenance fees and ATM withdrawal fees. However, customers have the chance to offset these costs by earning money back by using their An Post debit card to make purchases in a variety of partnered businesses. For instance, customers can get 5% back on any Lidl shop over €25 and SSE Airtricity customers can get 10% on their final bill.  

Maintenance fees (per annum)

ATM withdrawal fee

Debit card transaction fee

Contactless fee

Google/Apple Pay

Perks

Avoid fees by

€60

€0.60

(€0.50 if withdrawn from An Post branch)

€0.00

€0.00

No

Earn money back on purchases with multiple partnered shops and services.

N/A

Tempted to switch?

So which bank comes out on top? The answer to that question will always come down to your own personal requirements and preferences but it can’t be denied that banks are stepping up their competitive offerings in a bid to attract new customers - which can only be good news for the consumer!

You can run a full comparison of all of the banks’ current accounts as well as other products like Mortgages, Credit Cards and Savings Accounts and more on bonkers.ie and begin the switching process.


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