Tuesday 23 December 2014

AIB clients face new bank fees

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

Published 22/03/2012 | 05:00

UP to one million customers of state-owned AIB face paying fees of around €90 a year after the bank said customers would avoid fees only if they met tough new conditions.

The move comes despite taxpayers pumping €20bn into the bank to rescue it.

Customers who do not keep a credit balance of at least €2,500 in their current account will be hit with a quarterly charge of €4.50 and charges per transaction of between 20c and 30c.

Banking sources said this was likely to mean the average householder would end up shelling out €90 in current account fees.

The change follows similar moves at Bank of Ireland, EBS and National Irish Bank to make it harder for existing customers to avoid fees.

And Permanent TSB has abolished fee-free banking for new customers. This leaves Ulster Bank as the only one to offer a fully free current account.

A spokeswoman for Ulster Bank said it had no immediate plans to introduce charges and fees, but it was keeping the issue under review.

AIB defended the move, which was met with a blizzard of criticism, to impose fees every three months on those who failed to keep at least €2,500 in their current account for the entirety of the three-month period. The new rules come in on May 28.

The bailed-out bank, which is laying off 2,500 staff, said it was responding to similar changes made by its rivals.

Perk

Asked if was still paying out up to €2,500 a year to cover the golf memberships of senior staff while imposing fees on customers, AIB said this "club sub" perk was under review.

The bank operates around 1.5 million current accounts. The over-60s, students and those with graduate accounts will continue to have fee-free banking.

But more than 900,000 customers are likely to be hit with charges of up to 30c for the likes of lodging a cheque in a branch, in addition to a charge every three months of €4.50.

Up to now anyone who made at least one purchase using their debit card and at least one transaction using phone or internet banking, in each quarter, did not have to pay fees.

Director of personal and business banking Bernard Byrne said the decision was a "difficult" one to make, but said it was necessary if the bank was to "create the conditions in which we can become a strong and viable entity again".

But chief executive of the Consumers Association Dermott Jewell said families were completely at the mercy of bankers that could impose extra charges on them at will, despite bailing them out.

He said most people were living from day-to-day and did not have €2,500 to keep in their current accounts.

Head of the National Consumer Agency, Anne Fitzgerald, said consumers who had the money and kept €2,500 in their current account would lose out.

They would be down deposit interest of €98 a year, as no interest is paid on this money.

Ms Fitzgerald said the new criteria were "overly restrictive and disappointing".

Last year, this newspaper revealed that thousands of staff at AIB were still having gym and golf club memberships paid by the bank -- despite the Government insisting that the bailed-out bank cannot pay any bonuses.

A study released by the Central Bank before Christmas found that most people end up paying between €86 and €120 a year to their bank for operating a current account.

Householders were advised to use electronic transactions instead of manual transactions, as manual transactions tend to incur higher costs.

AIB bosses to Take big pay cuts, Plus news analysis, see BUSINESS WEEK supplement

Irish Independent

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