The persistence of negative interest rates since 2016, with the consequent drop in margins, is causing banks to raise the fees they apply to their clients. And of these, those who do not have contracted products (such as loans, investment or pension funds or insurance) are the ones who receive the most punishment.
The II Barometer of Asufin (Association of Financial Users) made public this Monday examines the 13 main banks in the market and concludes that Santander, Ibercaja and Kutxabank are the ones that have increased their fees the most for maintaining the account. This commission is especially controversial among customers because it is not understood as a true service, which is why it generates rejection. The banks argue that having an open account allows access to the entity’s services and to be attended at a branch or telematically, which requires bearing a series of fixed expenses.
“The increases are led by Banco Santander, which has gone from charging 144 euros to 240 euros per year, that is, 96 euros more, while it has launched a new subsidized product, the One account. It is followed by Ibercaja, from 72 to 120 euros per year, 48 euros more, and Kutxabank, from 60 to 100 euros per year, 40 euros more in total, ”says Asufin. It also recalls that the price of its CaixaBank commissions has risen, which after the absorption of Bankia, “begins to charge its unrelated clients 60 euros, compared to the 48 euros reflected a year ago”.
Among large entities, BBVA has just changed its conditions to consider that an account is linked. As of June 15, to benefit from an account without commissions in the entity chaired by Carlos Torres Vila, it will be necessary to have a regular payroll or income of more than 800 euros, or a pension of at least 300 euros. Likewise, in the last four months you must have a minimum of five direct debit charges or an active debit card with movements. It is also required to have an additional product contracted: loans, mortgages, insurance or investment products with a minimum amount of 5,000 euros, or an active credit card and spend at least 200 euros every four months. On the contrary, the entity that charges the least commissions is Abanca: 50 euros for maintaining the account and 28 euros, the debit card, according to this report.
Banks don’t want deposits
Banks flee from customers who only leave savings in their accounts because that does not provide them with any financial margin; It can even generate costs because the European Central Bank charges entities around 0.40% for depositing the money. Years ago, they needed their clients’ savings to make loans, but this is no longer the case; there is not much demand for credit and liquidity is abundant. This position implies a total change in the rules, difficult for customers to understand, which generates a worse opinion of the banks and damages their reputation.
This situation has been reflected in ING, which has decided to charge 10 euros a month to customers who have not paid their income by direct debit andhave more than 30,000 euros in the orange account. By raising the rates of the accounts, the banks want to force their clients to increase their relationship with credits or with the management of their assets (investment or pension funds) that imply a commission for managing that money.
Focusing on the set of the 13 main entities of the financial system, “the average of commissions charged by the main banking entities in Spain is 140.16 euros”, according to the II Banking Commissions Barometer. Specifically, the average places the annual fees for maintaining the account at 110 euros and 30.16 euros for the debit card, which places the total at 140.16 euros per year.
Asufin collects that the minimum income that the client has to maintain to be considered a linked account, and therefore less expensive, stands at 600 euros, the standard amount being 800 euros. However, “there is the case of Deutsche Bank, which scales to a required minimum of 1,500 euros.”
On the other hand, the association has shown its alarm at Banco Sabadell, since “the commission on non-subsidized accounts has lowered, from 200 to 120 euros per year, but has begun to charge those who meet the conditions of their account a commission quarterly of 15 euros, justified by the added services it offers ”.
More expensive cards
With regard to cards, the association has detected price increases in the commission for issuance, which again would especially affect non-rewarded customers. Specifically, Asufin states that CaixaBank charges eight euros more (36 euros in 2021, compared to 28 euros in 2020), BBVA charges seven euros more (35 euros this year compared to 28 euros in 2020), Liberbank six euros more ( 30 euros now compared to 24 a year ago) or Unicaja (32 euros now compared to 28 euros in 2020).
The president of Asufin, Patricia Suárez, has expressed the association’s “concern” about “the progressive increase in costs in a context of intensity in the digitization of services and office closures. This should lead to a reduction in commissions, the fact that the current situation is the opposite is disturbing, especially when the banking map, with fewer and more concentrated entities, leaves less choice for the consumer ”.
In times of economic crisis, the possibility of staying in Red numbers in the checking account for the collection of an unexpected receipt is high. For this reason, the association warns that overdraft commissions “are still one of the most expensive formulas”, since several components are combined: interest, commission of the overdraft itself and the commission for claiming the debtor position, to which it is added “A significant rise in the minimums applied.”
This commission is applied when a few days have passed without the overdraft being paid, generally two to three days, and ranges from 30 euros, the cheapest, from BBVA, to the 49 euros charged by Santander. In this sense, Asufin recalls that the Bank of Spain warns that this commission can only be charged if a series of demanding service requirements are met, not due to the automatic notification of a simple account entry. The Bank of Spain’s client portal includes judgment 566/2019 of October 25 of the Supreme Court, which led to the strengthening of these requirements.