More and higher fees on checking accounts

For many bank customers it is meanwhile: Free was yesterday. Above all, the fees for certain services are increasing. Some costs are only really noticeable in the Corona crisis.

Not always included in the price of the current account: the card payment

BPaying without cash in the supermarket or restaurant has become more important during the Corona crisis. But if you choose the wrong checking account, it can be expensive, as the Stiftung Warentest reports in the current issue of its “Finanztest” magazine. In an evaluation of 294 account models from 125 credit institutions in Germany, 55 models were found in which fees are due for each payment with the giro card. “These fees were already in place before the outbreak of the corona pandemic. However, they were hardly noticed because many people paid cash, ”says“ Finanztest ”expert Heike Nicodemus. The testers evaluated 294 account models from 125 banks in Germany. Including all nationwide active banks, direct and church banks, Sparda and PSD banks as well as the largest savings banks, Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken.

Basically, there has been a trend towards more and increasingly higher fees for services for years, says Nicodemus. The low interest rates are putting the finance houses under pressure. Parking money at the European Central Bank (ECB) currently costs 0.5 percent interest per year. This sometimes adds up to billions of euros. The requirements of stricter regulation also cause high costs. The banks are therefore putting the brakes on costs.

Often it is paper transfers, calls to the telephone service or withdrawing money from an ATM that does not belong to the pool of the customer bank, for which large amounts are charged. A paper transfer costs up to five euros at some of the banks analyzed, and cash withdrawals at a foreign bank’s ATMs cost up to six euros.

The greatest chances of getting a free checking account are with online accounts. The testers currently found 20 online salary accounts that are free of charge without any further conditions. However, for most of them there is an additional annual fee for the credit card. Services such as calls to the telephone service or paper transfers usually cost extra here as well. Stiftung Warentest defines accounts without a basic fee, fees for account statements, bookings, the giro card and cash withdrawals from machines in its own bank pool as free. In addition, it must not be tied to conditions such as regular receipt of money and salaries in a certain amount.

“In addition to the 20 free current accounts, we found 71 account models that cost up to 60 euros a year,” said Nicodemus. “From our point of view, this sum is okay. It doesn’t always have to be free, after all, there is a service behind it. ”Every consumer has to decide which account model is right for him. In any case, you should check the annual statement of fees carefully. “There you can see what is driving the costs up,” recommends the “financial test” expert.