Personal Finance

8 things to consider when choosing a new current account provider 

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Image Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

Switching current account is easier than people realise and there’s plenty of choice in the Irish market. But before you decide on a new provider, there are a few things to consider to ensure you choose the account that best suits your needs.

With both Ulster Bank and KBC planning to exit the Irish market shortly, many of you might be on the lookout for a new current account

Or maybe you’re just fed up with your current bank’s pesky fees and charges and are looking for better value. 

Either way, here are the most important things to consider when choosing a new current account provider. 

But, first, how much choice do you have?

Who provides current accounts in Ireland?

There are currently eight providers offering current account services right now. 

They are:

Now that we know the choice that’s out there, here’s a list of the main things to consider...

1. Branch network 

Looking first at the retail banks, AIB (170) and Bank of Ireland (169) both have a similar sized branch network. Permanent TSB (76) has a much smaller presence, although it is due to take on 25 of Ulster Bank’s branches within the next two years or so.

An Post, meanwhile, has over 900 post offices nationwide and currently allows customers of AIB and BOI to carry out their day-to-day banking in its offices.  

Meanwhile, as true online-only 'banks', Revolut and N26 have no physical presence on the high-street at all. 

If a branch network is important to you, whether to help with your day-to-day banking or to lodge cash and cheques, then having one close by is something important to consider.

However, if you’ve rarely set foot in a bank in years, then this is something that may not factor into your decision at all

2. Mobile payment options 

If you like being able to tap and pay with either your phone or your watch and to be able to leave your wallet at home, you’ll want to consider what mobile payments your new bank offers. 

Most providers now offer at least Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Apple Pay

Google Pay

FitBit Pay

AIB

Yes

Yes

Yes

An Post

Yes

Yes

Yes

BOI

Yes

Yes

No

CU

Yes

Yes

Yes

EBS

No

No

No

N26

Yes

Yes

Yes

PTSB

Yes

Yes

No

Revolut

Yes

Yes

Yes


3. Overdraft facility

Neither An Post, the EBS MoneyManager account, N26 or Revolut offer an overdraft at present, so if you currently have an overdraft or think you might want one in the near future, this is something to consider. 

4. Block/unblock feature 

This is a great feature whereby if you've misplaced your debit card, or want to stop it from being used, you can temporarily block your card (through your banking app) to protect it from unauthorised use as opposed to having to cancel it and deal with all the hassle that then entails. You can then unblock your card at any time. 

AIB, An Post, N26 and Revolut offer the feature at present. 

5. Cash versus card 

If you’re still a big fan of using cash over card, then you might want to avoid the online-only banks.

As both are branchless, you won’t be able to lodge any cash.

And taking out cash could cost you dearly too. 

N26 allows three fee-free ATM withdrawals a month. After that a hefty €2 fee per withdrawal applies.

Revolut allows you to withdraw a maximum of €200 a month fee-free and you’re only allowed five free withdrawals a month. After you’ve reached either limit, you’re charged €1 or 2% per withdrawal, whichever is higher.

Meanwhile, AIB will charge you 35 cent for every withdrawal. It might not seem like a lot but it could quickly add up. 

BOI and PTSB charge nothing extra for cash withdrawals and both have a high-street presence meaning they’re good options for those who use cash a lot.

PTSB also pays you 10 cent every time you use your card in store or online, up to a maximum of €5 a month. Meaning it's also a good option for those who use their card a lot.

6. Fees and charges

This is probably the biggest consideration. 

The Credit Union charges a €4 monthly fee, An Post €5, PTSB €6, and BOI €6.

After this most of your day-to-day banking is free with all these providers. 

However An Post and the Credit Union will charge for cash withdrawals in some cases. An Post will also charge you 50c for every cash or cheque lodgement.

EBS, N26 and Revolut charge no monthly fee. Though as mentioned above, fees can apply for withdrawing cash with the online-only banks.

Meanwhile, AIB charges for almost every type of transaction. 

However it you're a student, graduate or over the age of 66, most fees are waived by all providers. 

AIB

An Post

BOI

CU

EBS

N26/

Revolut

PTSB

Maintenance fees (per annum)

€18

€60

€72

€48

€0.00

€0.00

€72*

ATM withdrawal fee 

€0.35

€0.60**

€0.00

€0.50*** 

€0.00

€2.00 - first 3 free N26

€1 or 2% - first €200 or 5 free Revolut

€0.00

Lodgement fee

€0.20

€0.50

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

N/A

€0.00

Chip & Pin fee

€0.20

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Online banking transactions  

€0.20

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

DD / SO fee 

€0.20

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Contactless fee

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

*PTSB pays you back 10 cent every time you use your card in store or online, up to a maximum of €5 a month i.e. €60 a year.

**reduces to 50 cent at a Post Office. One free Post Office withdrawal a week.

***first 5 withdrawals a month fee-free.

7. Reward schemes/offers 

Both N26 and Revolut offer customers access to cashback and discounts on a wide range of popular brands with their respective reward schemes. 

Meanwhile, PTSB has a partnership with Sky and SSE Airtricity that gives customers up to 5% cashback on their bills if they pay them by direct debit from the bank’s Explore account.  

While rewards schemes should never really be your top reason for choosing a new provider (whether it be for energy, broadband, home insurance or your current account) if you know you’ll be shopping regularly with one of the partners then it’s something to consider.  

Also to note is that AIB provides free day-to-day banking to customers who have an AIB mortgage and pay it back from their AIB account. 

8. Online capabilities 

Each provider's online capabilities differ wildly so do your research if this is something that’s important to you.  

N26 and Revolut lead the pack here and have almost revolutionised what is possible to do on your phone with your money. 

EBS on the other hand doesn't even have a mobile app - though it does have online banking that you can access from a laptop or desktop. 

PTSB’s app is quite basic and doesn’t yet provide for fingerprint or face login for example. 

AIB meanwhile has the dreaded card reader, meaning you won’t be able to carry out certain transactions on the fly unless you have your reader handy. 

If you’re someone who prefers the personal touch over online banking, then a branch network might be more important to you than a mobile app. But if you’re someone who’ll do most of your banking online, then your provider’s online capabilities need to be considered carefully. 

What’s not important when choosing a current account?

There’s a huge misconception among Irish people that if you’re taking out a mortgage you have to have your current account with the bank in question or that it will help with your application. 

Nothing could be further from the truth, 

If you’re hoping to buy over the coming month or years don’t feel pressured into choosing a current account with AIB, BOI or PTSB for example because you think it might help with your mortgage application. 

Your mortgage application will be based on your income, ability to repay, and current employment status. Who you have your current account with will have no bearing on whether or not your application will get approved.

For more information, take a look at our guide on how mortgage applications are assessed.

Compare current accounts on bonkers.ie

If you’re looking for a new current account provider, our current account comparison service quickly compares different account features and charges from all of Ireland’s main banks.

Before making the switch, you might want to review our guide on how to switch current accounts or take a look at the recent piece we wrote on what providers are offering the best value current accounts in 2021

If you don’t feel like switching current accounts at the moment but want to reduce your banking costs take a look at these 9 surprisingly easy ways to reduce your current account fees.

Make sure you check out our banking and personal finance comparison page to see other ways you can lower your other everyday banking costs.

Get in touch

Are you thinking about switching current account providers? If so, what factors are most important to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section! 

If you have any questions about switching current accounts, you can also get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.