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Bank charges remain flat

By Staff Writer

The bank charges of the big five banks did not change significantly between 2012 and 2013, according to research done by the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI). SRI compared the bank accounts of Capitec, Standard Bank, Absa, First National Bank (FNB) and Nedbank.


The SRI report stated that of the transactions that form part of the user profiles, the cost of cash withdrawals at ATMs was marginally increased by most banks by about 30c to 60c.


How do the bank charges compare?
The report showed that on the whole, Capitec is still the cheapest option for most clients with the simplest product offering of all five banks. The bank has only one transactional account called the Global One account and in 2011, Riaan Stassen, the bank's CEO, said he did not understand why a high net worth customer and a blue-collar customer should pay different charges for using the same facilities.


The report further stated that the Global One account is suitable for people who need a basic, cheap account and who do not mind getting other products like credit cards from other banks.
Further it showed that FNB had the broadest range of accounts unlike the other banks that have reduced their product range. FNB’s Easy account is also the only one that can compete, on costs, with Capitec' Global One account in the low-income market, especially after the Easy Account's fees were significantly reduced in 2013.


“Price is important for customers, but they should also to look for the best quality account offering the best benefits. FNB’s Easy Account customers have free card purchases, cash withdrawals at tills, FNB debit orders, transfers between accounts as well as balance enquiries. We made the Easy Account even cheaper by reducing the monthly fees on our Easy Account by 67%,” said Seth Maanda, head of sales and marketing at FNB Transact.


The SRI report showed that Absa’s Value Bundles Account is their most important one as it was used to shed their image as one of South Africa’s most expensive banks. Even so, Absa still has pay-as-you-transact (PAYT) accounts, of which the low-cost Transact account is one. Although the Transact account's costs are low, it is let down by its lack of internet banking services as well as a daily limit of R2 000 on withdrawals and payments.


Arrie Rautenbach, Absa head of Retail Banking, said they were proud to see that their efforts to ensure affordable offers to the entry level market have not gone unnoticed. “Transact remains the only offer that charges no penalty fees at all - not even for denied ATM transactions. Through Absa Value Bundles we are able to reward our customers for an extended banking relationship with us,” said Rautenbach.


At R97, Nedbank’s Savvy current account was shown to be their only practical choice. The average cost is higher than the advertised fixed monthly fee of R89 because cash back transactions are not included in the fixed fee.


 

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