A survey released yesterday found that Irish consumers are missing out on savings of over €2,000 a year by failing to shop around for better value on household bills.
The research, carried out by Amárach on behalf of Permanent TSB, found that bank charges make up a significant proportion of this unclaimed pot of cash. Only around one in ten Irish consumers have switched their main current account in the past year, though most of them are underestimating the amount they pay in current account fees by as much as 50%.
The survey found that consumers are much more likely to switch car insurance, electricity and broadband providers but when it comes to banks, they often stay put despite similar frustrations.
Almost half of those who did switch said they did it to get a better deal because their previous bank was too expensive and the majority said they were glad they made the move.
So, if you’re unhappy with your bank, what is the best course of action?
Just like any other bill you pay, it is important to look at what the various providers have to offer. The National Consumer Agency has a handy tool that allows you to compare the various financial institutions and find out which one will best meet your needs:
The agency notes that there are exceptions to these fees if you meet the right criteria:
- At Bank of Ireland: A quarterly fee of €5 always applies, but customers can avoid account transaction fees by maintaining a minimum credit balance of €3,000 in their personal current account throughout the full fee quarter
- At ESB: Customers can get five free withdrawals each month by ATM or in branch (cash or cheque) if either at least €1,500 is lodged to the account each month, either in one lump sum or in instalments or a minimum balance of €500 is maintained in the account each month
- At Permanent TSB: The quarterly fee is waived if the customer makes a lodgement(s) amounting to at least €1,500 each month
- At Ulster Bank: There is a charge of €4 per month – totally €12 a quarter. This can be avoided by lodging a cleared total of at least €3,000 into the account or by maintaining this balance.
Be sure, when comparing, to pay attention to fees that may not seem obvious, like those for overdrafts, money transfers or lost ATM cards.