Guiding consumers since 2009

Is it time to change your bank account?

By Staff Writer
With the start of a new year always comes a set of new resolutions. Many people stick to the usual: go to the gym, lose weight, or join a club, while failing to remember that financial health resolutions are just as important.
"While it is always encouraged to better your life both financially and personally, most people make the mistake of confusing their New Year's goals with bucket list objectives - almost guaranteed not to work. The worst thing about failed New Year's resolutions is that they can waste time and cost a lot of money,'' said Matthew Hunter, head of savings and investments at Absa Retail Banking.
Bank account options
While going over the list of New Year's resolutions, many forget to think about their bank accounts. Have you considered whether you are paying too much for services that you don't use? Some banks will be changing their fee structure in January, so you'd be wise to review your fees and charges to see if you are still getting a good deal.
"With the current state of South African's saving culture, consumers need to be informed and educated on how to set fruitful financial resolutions rather than wasting money on quick schemes that provide no guarantee," said Hunter.
"Customers don't always realise how much real value they can get from their bank account. They are often under the impression that they pay fees in exchange for holding a bank account and that's where the buck stops. However, this is where it actually begins," said Pierre Loubser, head of consumer banking at Absa Retail Banking.
Most banks offer customers a number of value-added services and if accounts are structured correctly and if customers bank smartly, a whole lot of banking value can be unlocked, explained Loubser.
"Customers just need to take control of their finances and familiarise themselves with the different banking options that's available in the market," said Loubser.
To bundle or not?
Many customers don't always pay attention to how they use their banking facilities, and therefore can have the wrong type of bank account.
Banks offer pay-as-you-transact accounts, as well as bundle accounts. If you, as the customer, do not use the ATM often, or swipe that much, then a pay-as-you-transact account would be better.
But if you need to withdraw money every month, and use internet banking daily, then a bundle account would be a better option.
"This small change could easily save you large sums of money that could be used to top up your monthly savings account," said Absa.
Extra benefits
Some bank accounts offer extra benefits like 'take me home' services, or access to various lounges at the airports. Even though these extras sound like a great deal, you should evaluate whether or not you will ever use them. Ask about the fees associated for subscribing to these services and ten evaluate whether or not you will use them enough to justify the amount you are paying to subscribe to the service.
However, one benefit that is worth looking into is shared banking.
"This may have not crossed your mind, but if you bank with the same bank as your spouse, you should be speaking to your bank about partner discounts," said Absa.
Other benefits which certain bank accounts offer are funeral policies. Check to see if your bank's value bundle offers you any lump sum benefits upon the passing of a loved one.
It is important to find out what your bank account is offering and not feel bad about upgrading, downgrading, or even switching bank accounts entirely if it will benefit your pocket.
For more information on how to handle your finances, click here.

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