The cost of banking has remained unchanged in the past year, according to research by trade union Solidarity released on Tuesday.
“Monthly bank costs have started to stagnate at an R80 to R100 level,” senior researcher Paul Joubert said at a presentation in Pretoria. “Bank fees are a lot better than they were in previous years. Overall, I would say it is good news in most aspects.”
The research, conducted by the Solidarity Research Institute, compared charges for personal bank accounts offered by Absa, First National Bank, Standard Bank, Nedbank, and Capitec.
Joubert said Standard Bank was the only exception after the bank closed its most competitive mainstream account to new clients. “Standard Bank took away the Achiever Electronic account, therefore they are not as competitive.”
The account was still available for existing consumers but not available on a new account. As a result, the bank’s Elite Plus account was the most expensive of the five banks’ cheapest mainstream accounts.
According to the report, the cheapest mainstream account in 2013 is Capitec’s Global One Account, which cost consumers R52,02 monthly, followed by FNB’s Smart Unlimited at R53,20 monthly.
Absa was third with its Silver Value Bundle at R82/month, Nedbank’s Savvy Current was R97 monthly, and Standard Bank’s Elite Plus account charged R102,40.
According to the report, most banks were moving towards bundle accounts at the expense of pay-as-you-transact accounts which limited clients’ choices.
Joubert said the charges on these accounts had become too high for consumers who would rather pay a fixed amount for all transactions.
“Capitec is an exception. But the other banks’ charges are so high that you only need to do a small amount of transactions per month but your costs would be higher than you would pay on a bundle account,” he said. “In that sense, people are almost forced into having the bundle accounts.”
Joubert said FNB significantly decreased the fees of its Easy Account this year to target low-income consumers. He said FNB beat Capitec on cost on this level for the first time after Capitec’s success in this market.
Absa’s Transact account competed well with Capitec on cost, but did not have benefits like internet banking.
Joubert said it was important for people to find out other options were available to save money on bank charges. — Sapa
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