The number of banks in Germany charging their customers interest for keeping their money is reaching the highest level in history.

At the same time, it is becoming apparent that this number is no longer rising as quickly as it was last year.

The allowances and thus the limit from which customers have to pay negative interest are no longer falling so across the board.

Christian Siedenbiedel

Editor in Business.

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Apparently, at least some banks fear the legal risks associated with this instrument after two court decisions against negative interest rates.

In addition, some are apparently holding back because of the signals from the European Central Bank (ECB): at least it no longer rules out starting to abolish negative interest rates for banks this year.

New evaluation by Biallo: 581 banks with negative interest rates

As can be seen from an evaluation by the consumer portal Biallo, which is exclusively available to the FAZ in advance, 561 banks and savings banks in Germany are now demanding negative interest from private customers;

There are 581 for corporate customers.

The number has risen to this high over the years since 2014, but the increase has slowed somewhat recently.

Eight years ago, the then ECB President Mario Draghi introduced negative interest rates for bank deposits with the central bank.

He had said at the time that these interest rates were "for the banks, not for the people".

However, that did not stop the banks from gradually introducing negative interest rates for their customers, sometimes under euphemistic names such as “credit card fee” or “custody fee”.

The banks themselves now enjoy increased allowances from the ECB, and cheap long-term loans also give them an advantage.

Some banks even earn more from the negative interest rates than they pay themselves, as consumer advocates have shown with examples.

Allowance for negative interest in some cases below EUR 10,000

There were initially very high allowances for savers.

Biallo's evaluation shows that the majority of these are currently 50,000 euros or less, albeit with a high number of unreported cases.

However, almost 14 percent of all banks now grant an allowance of just 10,000 euros or less.

The regulations on negative interest rates are by no means equally widespread in all types of banks.

According to the survey, the cooperative banks make up the largest group ahead of the savings banks.

Of course, the number of institutes in each group varies greatly.

If you take a closer look at what percentage of the institutes in the respective banking families are now charging negative interest, the penetration is highest among direct banks at more than 75 percent, followed by national banks at 65 percent;

only then come the savings banks with 49 percent and the Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken with 41 percent.

There are also differences depending on the federal state: According to Biallo, the proportion of banks with such a regulation is particularly high at 72 percent in Berlin and Brandenburg.

More savers are now keeping their money at home

One reaction of some savers to negative interest rates seems to be that more people than before are keeping cash at home.

In a survey by the Nuremberg market research institute GfK a few years ago when negative interest was introduced, 55 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to withdraw the money and deposit it at home if their house bank actually demanded negative interest from them.

There is probably a difference between saying and doing.

Meanwhile, Postbank reported on Wednesday that in one of its surveys, significantly more people than a decade ago said they are now keeping savings at home — saving without a bank.