Karl Deeter: Get switched on and beat the banks at their own game
If Irish consumers were half as good at switching away from rip-off suppliers as they were at complaining about them, we'd have the most competitive market in the world. We don't have to accept second best - so here are a few ways to 'beat the bank' when it comes to financial services.
1 Get free banking
The German online bank 'Number 26' offers free banking and a phone interface that is streets ahead of any of our national offerings. They are fast, minimal fuss and the price is right (current account cost is zero, no 'minimum lodgements' or other nonsense). See www.number26.eu
2 Get cheaper mortgage protection
Call a broker and ask to get requoted - in particular by Royal London, Aviva and Zurich who all have special broker offerings where you can get the lowest price in the market plus an additional discount.
Separately, don't ever buy any insurance direct from the bank - they are always 'tied agents', meaning they can't offer anything other than the one provider they work with.
3 Lend to other people instead of to banks
When you deposit money, you 'lend' it to the bank. If you don't have your deposit with KBC who have the best one-year fixed rate, then get up to 16 times more by lending it via linkedfinance.com.
Obviously there is a risk, so be aware of that - but there's also a risk in complacency where you accept less from a bank. Remember, many accounts pay zero interest!
4 Switch provider on debt (like mortgages)
There is virtually no difference between one debt provider and another - other than price. So find the lowest price and go to them.
Currently banks will even cover most of your costs. There are also new entrants about to enter the Irish market who will shake all of this up a lot - keep an eye out for them.
5 Talk to the bank of your family
If you need a loan and can pay the interest, why not consider drawing up a loan contract with a relative? They can get a higher interest rate than the bank would offer, and you can get a cheaper one than the bank will offer you. Remember the interest is taxable (as is any interest).
6 Send money cheaper
Use a broker or transfer service like SGM-fx.com or TransferWise.com, who don't set the exchange rate so they can fleece you on that as well as the charges!
The biggest tragedy when it comes to consumers in Ireland is the lack of assertive consumer behaviour. We should simply leave services that don't 'serve' us as well as others could. That is the only way to get existing banks to listen to us.
Sunday Indo Business