Berlin / Frankfurt (dpa) - Fees for withdrawing money at the machine or for transfers on paper: In the slump, banks and savings banks have become inventive.
Nevertheless, there are still banks offering free current accounts. An evaluation of the magazine "financial test" according to 22 out of about 290 account models are free, which took the testers at 122 financial institutions under the microscope. Provided that customers keep this account online and use it as a salary or retirement account.
In this case, according to the information, there are no monthly basic prices for the 22 offers, all online bookings are included, the girocard is free. "Another 69 checking accounts are still quite cheap with prices of a maximum of 60 euros per year," says the September issue of "Finanztest" by Stiftung Warentest.
Stephanie Pallasch from Stiftung Warentest reported that "Before the financial crisis in 2008, there were significantly more free current accounts," They were primarily aimed at attracting customers, because if the customer is the only product with a free checking account, this can not be expected "Behind it is a service that costs money to banks and savings banks."
Meanwhile, low interest rates and stricter regulation pressures put financial institutions under pressure. You are therefore on the cost brake. So the number of branches has been falling for years. According to the Deutsche Bundesbank, its number fell significantly last year by 2,239 to 27,887 branches. "The operation of branches is expensive for banks, so it is in the interest of banks and savings banks that customers do their own banking online", explained Pallasch.
Currently being screwed especially on the fees for transfers in paper form and the telephone service, said the Stiftung-Warentest-Expertin. Up to 4.90 euros can cost according to "financial test" a transfer to paper in individual cases. Anyone who wants to make phone calls as an owner of an online account with a customer advisor is sometimes asked to pay up to € 3.50 per call. For some online and direct banks, the use of the giro card (debit card) can also be used to withdraw money. Toll-free cash is available at some institutions only when the credit card is inserted.
So customers have to compare prices intensively if they do not want to pay unnecessary fees - not an easy task given the variety of models. However, according to Pallasch's assessment, consumers have more insight into the jungle of charges as a result of the annual fee information since 2018: "The information is transparent and easy to find."
In addition to fees, a small number of institutions are already demanding fine interest from private customers for particularly high credit balances on the giro or overnight money account. In the future, it could hit more consumers. The president of the Baden-Württemberg savings bank association, Peter Schneider, warned that if Europe's monetary authorities cut interest rates even further and do not take countermeasures, there would be no way around on a broad front to demand money for the storage of credits.
Banks currently have to pay 0.4 percent penalty interest when they park money with the European Central Bank (ECB). The central bank had suggested that this interest could be tightened. With this, the monetary authorities want to boost lending and thus the economy in the euro area.
"It could be that many banks in the long run can no longer handle, the additional burdens in the breadth of private customers to pass," said Andreas Krautscheid, chief executive of the Federal Association of German banks (BdB), recently the Funke media group. Even today, the fines cost the German financial institutions around 2.3 billion euros a year. However, the possibilities of passing on additional charges to customers via charges and interest are "limited", stated Krautscheid. "But the pressure continues to exploit it."
Stiftung Warentest to Girokontentest
Time series ECB interest rates
ECB purchase program
ECB rate decision 25.7.2019
Draghi inaugural statement 25.7.2019
Eurostat on inflation in the euro area
Bundesbank communication on the development of banks and branches
Interview BdB Chief Executive Krautscheid