Why is my monthly bank fee 87

Bank fees: where the account really doesn't cost anything

Frankfurt The cooperative PSD banks are actually considered to be typical banks with a free current account. This is now only the case for eight of the 14 PSD banks. PSD Bank Rhein-Neckar-Saar, based in Stuttgart, has recently begun charging EUR 2.50 per month for its PSD Giro-Direkt account.

This means that the account is still cheaper than most current accounts at other banks and savings banks. Those who are members of the bank also receive a credit of two euros in addition to their monthly salary, which almost offsets the new fee. Nevertheless, the step taken by the Stuttgart-based company shows that the number of real free accounts is dwindling.

The low interest rate phase "means that certain products are currently causing considerable deficits and have thus become uneconomical," said the Stuttgart bank. "We have therefore made the fundamental decision for our company that every product or service should make a profit contribution and not be cross-subsidized."

This is exactly what has been the case with free accounts so far. The banks have offset the costs incurred through other transactions, such as the granting of loans and own investments. But that no longer works in view of the mini interest. They gnaw at the earnings of the credit institutions.

On the one hand, the margins in the lending business are shrinking; on the other hand, banks earn less if they want to invest money securely in the capital market. This particularly affects savings banks and cooperative banks, which make a living from the traditional banking business with deposits and loans. Many of these financial institutions, but also private banks, are therefore turning the fee screw.

There are therefore fewer and fewer real free accounts. The consumer portal Biallo currently has 32 free current accounts. Last summer there were at least 40. Biallo examined more than 1,400 private and cooperative banks and savings banks.

The financial institutions with a free offer primarily include direct banks, some cooperative Sparda banks, several PSD banks and some savings banks and Volksbanks that have a corresponding online account.

Biallo has set strict criteria for this: the account must not have a basic fee or require a minimum monthly receipt, the giro card must be free, as well as online transfers. The possible disadvantage with most of these credit institutions: They hardly have any branches.

This also means that Biallo, for example, does not count Commerzbank among the financial institutions with a free offer. Because Commerzbank's “0 euro account” only costs nothing if it receives at least 1200 euros per month.

For years, many banks have advertised cheap checking accounts. But these times are drawing to a close. A pioneer in the free version was Postbank, one of the largest German private customer banks with around five million checking accounts.

The Deutsche Bank subsidiary introduced a free account in 1998, but largely abolished it at the end of 2016. The account only remains free if the amount received is 3,000 euros or more, previously the limit was 1,000 euros per month.

Cash withdrawals can also be costly

Consumers therefore have to take a closer look if they want to see the costs of their current account. Many banks have recently made changes. Almost all of the largest savings banks have adapted current account models and ultimately made them more expensive for many customers. The Sparkasse Bremen has just announced this, as the "Weser-Kurier" reports.

Commerzbank's premium account will also cost 30 percent more in future, namely 12.90 euros per month. The costs for some of the services included in the offer have risen in recent years. "We were able to keep the price for the premium account stable for five years - now we were forced to increase the price," said a Commerzbank spokesman.

For fee increases, the financial institutions even get the backing of bank supervisors. To earn more, they could "try to increase their income from fees and commissions, for example," said the European Central Bank's chief banking supervisor, Danièle Nouy, ​​recently. "Many banks have already indicated that they want to do just that."

It always makes sense to take a close look at the account fees, because some financial institutions charge unusual prices. According to Biallo 69, the almost 400 savings banks nationwide charge a fee for cash withdrawals from at least one of their account models. The same applies to more than 300 of the almost 1,000 Volks- and Raiffeisenbanks as well as to a direct bank. They also offer account models where withdrawals at ATMs or at the counter may cost money. Overall, there are twice as many credit institutions with such a fee as there was a year ago.

Despite higher and new fees, customers have hardly reacted so far - even though a new law and new service providers make the change easier. Last summer, only eight percent of consumers planned to open a new checking account and / or change their main bank account, according to a poll by pollsters from YouGov.

The bottom line is that Postbank initially lost customers after introducing new account prices almost a year and a half ago. Since autumn 2017, however, the bank has been adding new customers on balance.

The fact that so far relatively few customers have left their bank after a fee increase is also due to the fact that many consumers would find it too time-consuming to switch because, for example, an additional two euros a month, says Oliver Mihm, head of the Investors Marketing consultancy.

“However, customer reactions to significant fee increases are increasing. Where three years ago, on average, only one percent left the bank when the fees were increased on the current account, these reactions are already more pronounced, at currently up to three percent, ”observes Mihm. "In the future, customers will accept less and less pure fee increases without expanding the range of services."

Mihm expects further fee increases to follow. Banks could expand their business and take more risks in lending. In addition, the increase in fees remains one of the few options for many banks and savings banks to brace themselves against the low interest rates. This applies to both current accounts and, increasingly, to the securities business.

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