FNB to increase prices in July

By Staff Writer
Petrol, electricity and food prices have all gone up and now one financial service institution is announcing its half yearly bank fee increases too. This week, First National Bank (FNB) has announced its new fees for 2015/2016, effective from next month, 1 July 2015.
However, there is some good news for customers in that fees for FNB’s most popular accounts will remain at the 2014 levels. Some fees will be scrapped, for example the eBucks rewards linkage fee for customers with FNB cheque and credit cards (scroll down to read more on the price changes).
Those that hold open an Encore Gold Cheque Account will be receiving a welcomed reduction in the monthly fees of R30, as the account structure changes and the fees are adjusted (customers with an old account can change to the new model). While many of the other accounts’ monthly fees remain unchanged.
However, other fees particularly those that rely on human interaction, for example in branch queries and services, as well as those carried out via telephone banking, will be increasing.
Services facing an increase in fees
The fees for cash-based transactions will be increasing, as these, said FNB, remain a high cost to the bank.
Among some of the services that will be facing a cost increase are:
·         Cash withdrawals at an FNB ATM, and at other banks’ ATMs.
·         Payment notifications via email will increase from R0.70 to R0.74, SMS from R1.10 to R1.15 and fax (from R5 to R5.50).
·         The cost for a variety of services carried out at an FNB Branch range from R43 to R50, such as stop payments and linked account transfers.
·         Point-of-sale, in branch and telephonic balance enquiries, as well as international point-of-sale and other banks’ ATM balance enquiries for some of the accounts.
·         The replacement of non-personalised and personalised cards. FNB Easy Account holders, for example, will now pay more to replace cards. Before the fare increase they paid R38 but will pay R40 from 1 July.
“We encourage customers to use their cards to transact and access channels such as FNB online banking, cell phone banking and the FNB Banking App. These alternatives offer savings, convenience and the ability to earn rewards,” explained Jo-Ann du Plessis, head of consumer pricing at FNB.
While some of the increases are the same regardless of the account type, other increases, and decreases, are dependent on the type of account.
For example, the replacement of a non-personalised card for the Easy Account has increased to R40 from R38, while for the replacement of a non-personalised Chip and Pin card for the Smart Account remains unchanged at R80.
Monthly account fees
Youth Account and Islamic Youth Account – The monthly account fee is now R6.25 per month (p/m), which has been increased from R6 for the 2014/2015 period.
Student Account – The monthly fees for the Student Account unlimited option remain unchanged at R24.50 p/m. The pay-as-you-use option has remained unchanged at R6 p/m.
Stokvel Account – The monthly fees for this account have increased to R6 p/m from R5.75 in 2014/2015.
Smart Save Account – The fees for the Smart Save Account have increased to R6 p/m from the 2014/2015 price of R5.75.
Easy Account – The fees for this account have remained unchanged at R4.95 p/m.
Smart Account and Islamic Smart Account – These accounts will have a monthly account fee starting at R12.50 p/m, which is increased from R12 in 2014/2015.
Gold Cheque Account – The fees for this account have remained unchanged at R100 p/m.
Platinum Cheque Account – The monthly fee for the bundled account remains unchanged at R199 p/m. The standalone Platinum Unlimited option has increased from R145 to R160, while the pay-as-you-use option remains unchanged at R40.
Encore Gold Cheque Account – The cost for this account is R65 p/m. Previously there were two account types unlimited transactions for R95 p/m, and standard transaction for R105 p/m.
FNB explained: “The standard and unlimited options have been discontinued for new customers for the Encore offering. The new option (comprehensive pricing option) replaces these options. This will be the only option on Encore Gold that will be available to new customers from 1 July 2015. 
“Existing customers do not have to move off of the old options but can move to the new pricing option if they would like to. If customers keep more than R10 000 in their accounts at all times on the new option, the monthly account fee (R65) is waived and these customers also receive a combination of free transactions including four free FNB ATM cash withdrawals, a combination of five free branch (excluding deposits) and cheque transactions, as well as free prepaid purchases and one free ADT deposit per month. For customers on the existing options, the fees remain unchanged at R95 (unlimited) and R105 (standard).”
Accounts which will remain unchanged
Du Plessis said: “By keeping our most popular monthly account fee pricing at last year’s levels, FNB is helping customers who are faced with rising costs across all fronts.”
FNB customers who hold the most basic, and cheapest, cheque account – the Easy Account – will continue to bank for R4.95 a month. “There is no reason for a customer to incur significant additional costs; especially in light of FNB’s free card swipes, free cash withdrawals at tills, free SMS notifications, free subscription to cell phone banking and a free linked savings account with the ability to bank your change,” said du Plessis.
The fees for the Cash@Till service offered by FNB will remain unchanged. FNB clients will be able to with draw an unlimited value, as often as they require, from most Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Checkers and Boxer stores, as well as at selected Spars, free of charge.
The banking fees for Platinum account holders will remain unchanged, while adding more free transactions.
“We have left the Platinum Bundle monthly fee -which includes customers’ cheque and credit card fees as well as eBucks rewards - unchanged at R199. We are also doubling the number of free FNB ATM withdrawals from four to eight per month,” explained James Fowle, CEO of FNB Premium and Business Core Banking.
“In addition, we have included one free deposit per month at FNB ATMs. Platinum customers continue to receive great rewards at no subscription fee and have access to our dedicated team of premier bankers.”
Prior to these changes, FNB Platinum clients did not receive any free deposits. A cash deposit at the ATM cost 0.7% of the deposit value, with a minimum cost of R5.50.
FNB highlighted that for added customer convenience, cardless cash withdrawals will be “included in the FNB ATM cash withdrawal limits on the Unlimited and Value Pricing options for Gold and Smart accounts.”
To qualify for a Smart account, you need to have an income of up to R350 000 per year. While for a Gold account you need to earn an income of between R120 000 and R349 999 per year.
A spokesperson for FNB explained: “Customers on FNB Pay as You Use pricing options pay for each cardless cash withdrawal but now priced at the normal FNB ATM transaction fee (before 1 July, this transaction attracted an additional fee of R4.25 in addition to the FNB ATM Fee).
“For Gold and Smart customers on the Unlimited Pricing Option or Value Pricing Option (Smart accounts), cardless cash withdrawals are included in the number of free transactions (four). Once this has been exceeded, the additional transactions are charged at the same rate as a normal FNB ATM cash withdrawal.
“For customers utilising FNB Platinum accounts (irrespective of pricing option), cardless cash withdrawals are charged at a flat rate of R5 per transaction,” added the spokesperson.
FNB noted: “No monthly account fee will be charged when an FNB account is not in use (when there are no customer-initiated transactions and the account does not have a positive balance). This benefit will see savings for customers who are seasonal workers or have irregular income. Customers can reactivate their accounts when they need to without first having to pay outstanding bank fees or having to fund monthly deposits.”
Prior to these changes, FNB customers had been charged their monthly account fees, regardless of whether or not they have been using their account.
Transactions with a reduction in cost
According to FNB, Easy Account holders will enjoy a reduction in some of their transaction fees. “Internal debit orders for Easy Accounts will now be free of fees altogether (down to zero from R1.50), while electronic payments have come down from R3.20 to R1.50 per transaction.”
The FNB ATM withdrawal structure has also been changed to provide customers with a cost saving. The bank explained that the pricing structure has changed from per R500 to a per R100 structure. While customers were paying R6.70 for a R100 withdrawal according to the 2014/2015 pricing, they will now pay R5.25 on the new 2015/2016 pricing structure.
Linkage fee to eBucks
eBucks is FNB’s rewards programme, that allows customers with qualifying bank accounts to earn points when they use their FNB and eBucks cards at participating retailers. These points can then be redeemed in the eBucks store to buy a variety of items, including airtime and aeroplane tickets.
The qualifying accounts for eBucks are:
  • FNB Cheque Account or Credit Card
  • FNB One Account
  • FNB Smart Cheque Account
  • FNB Private Clients Cheque or Credit Card
  • FNB Private Wealth account or Credit Card
A spokesperson for FNB explained: “[In the past] the annual linkage fee of R200 was only applicable for FNB Credit Card customers. eBucks subscriptions have always been free for all cheque accounts.  From 1 July the linkage fee has been scrapped for Gold credit card customers who hold both a Credit card and Cheque account. Platinum Account customers on the Bundle Pricing Option also don’t pay the linkage fee.”
To clarify: "If you hold a matching Gold cheque account and Gold credit card, your linkage to eBucks will be free. The Platinum bundled fee that remains R199 per month includes the credit card monthly rewards fee and hence linkage to eBucks is free as well.

"If you hold a Gold credit card or Platinum credit card only or your cheque and credit card products do not match and you are linked to earn rewards on your credit card, you will be charged the Credit Card Monthly rewards fee  of R16.50 p/m."
For more information on eBucks, click here.
FNB Connect
Through its new FNB Connect service, FNB clients will be able to manage their financial and mobile accounts via FNB online banking.
In addition, “cheque account holders will also have the benefit of earning up to 40% back in eBucks on their FNB Connect mobile and data spend from 1 July. [While] smart account customers can get R15 per R100 spent and FNB Easy customers will get R10 per R100 spent,” said FNB.
The bank will also sell SIM cards separately to devices. Customers will be able to select from a variety of mobile voice and data products.
FNB provided the following example of FNB Connect pricing: “Data is offered over 24 months at 3.25c/MB for 2GB (1GB anytime [and] 1GB after midnight). [An FNB Connect] bundled package of 200 minutes, 200MB and 200 SMS is priced at R200 for 24 months.”
For more details on the new pricings, click here.
To see the FNB pricing list for 2014/2015, click here.

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