Consumers warned banking charges may rise further


By Niamh Hennessy
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
CONSUMERS have been warned that banks may continue to hike charges as lenders are put under pressure to bring in cash.
Current account holders have also been advised to visit their bank’s website and download a copy of the fees and charges they pay. 
Director of moneycoach.ie, Frank Conway said that if cash is tight it is really important that people know how and where to avoid expensive penalties. 
"Banks are now charged with bringing in as much cash as they possibly can, they are likely to continue to grow the range of services that they will charge for," he said, adding that there are some indications that greater bank levies may be considered at EU level to pay for the bailouts. 
"If agreed, these will also be passed onto consumers," he said. 
"Expanding beyond consumer current accounts, I would encourage a new culture of more people improving their own understanding of fees and charges. Credit cards are also a big-fee generator and it is important that consumers have a better understanding of how many fees can be charged in addition to the monthly interest charge," said Mr Conway. 
Among the charges banks slap on customers are transaction fees. Bank of Ireland charge 28 cents per transaction or flat €11.40 up to 90 transactions per quarter. You can avoid these fees if you lodge at least €3,000 and maintain it or have a level of activity the bank has set for fee-free banking. AIB is a little bit different in that it has a quarterly charge, and varying charges associated with self-service versus staff-assisted charges range from 20 cents to 30 cents. 
There’s also the Government stamp duty of €2.50 a year on ATM cards and debit cards. 
Banks also charge "error fees" for returned cheques, overdrafts, over limit fees or unpaid standing orders. They also charge "convenience fees", on for example, ATM Cirrus which is used when accessing cash abroad. 
* A good tool for comparing bank charges is the comparison calculator on www.bonkers.ie.

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