Save on bank charges
Published 03/10/2010 | 05:00
Save on bank statements
Online banking services are a great way to get back-copies of your bank statements for free. However, if applying for a mortgage or dealing with Revenue you'll need originals.
Bank of Ireland and National Irish Bank customers can get free statement duplicates by using in branch self-service statement machines where you can print out copies.
If you need a whole stack of back copies of statements and are determined to avoid paying through the nose for them, you could obtain them under the Freedom of Information act for less. You have a right to the information under the Data Protection Act, and the bank can only charge you a maximum of €6.35 to provide them.
It could take up to 40 days to get them, but if you need a year's statement it will save you around €60. See www.dataprotection.ie for further details.
You may not automatically have free banking
So warns financial adviser Linda Nicholson -- so be sure to ask for it. "It is important that you elect to avail of the latest free charges. Be careful not to assume that, if you qualify, the bank automatically puts you on this plan. It is advisable to take action and ring your bank to double-check. If you are someone who is paying say €25 a quarter in bank fees, that is a lot of money when added up over a few years."
Check if you need to apply or register for your interest
This might not happen automatically. For example, to get your interest on your credit balance for BoI's two main current account types, you have to register -- and it's also subject to other transaction and balance conditions.
Avoid transfer charges
Transferring money between banks in different countries including the North and the Republic can cost hundreds of euro, if large amounts are involved. Several regulated online services can transfer money for much less, such as Transfermate.com. "We transfer money at a competitive exchange rate, without transfer or vendor fees. We're much more competitive than banks," says Transfermate's Sinead Gill (transfermate.com).
Try to avoid overdrafts
With average overdraft rates running at about 14 per cent, it's increasingly expensive to be overdrawn.
Nicholson sums up the basic principal of getting the best from your bank account. "When you walk into a shop you're used to seeing the price tag on everything. Expect the same from your banking experience. Every time you do something new or unusual, ask your bank if there is a charge and how much it is. At least this way you will have all of the information you need to make a decision."
Check your statements
That's the way to pick up on any shock new charges quickly. "Most people simply don't have the time to keep up with the latest bank charges and fee schedules," says Nicholson.
"The best 'defence' against being overcharged or paying unnecessary charges is to regularly check your bank statements.
Log on to your bank account or read your paper statement and if you notice anything unusual, ring your bank immediately and query the charge.
At least this way, if you're caught unawares the first time, you won't get caught twice."