Bank fees fall, but customers still 'walloped'

by Adam Smith22 Jun 2012

Bank fees are falling, but an industry figure has claimed banks are still finding ways to "wallop" customers.

An RBA report has found that bank fees fell by 7% in 2011 to a total of $4bn. But bank customers are still paying more than $470 a year in fees.

The Australian Bankers' Association (ABA) has claimed the highest fees are paid by higher income families.

"For those households on low incomes, the report shows that they pay the lowest amount of bank fees. Free accounts are available for pensioners, children, students and other eligible customers," CEO Steve Munchenberg said.

Munchenberg said bank customers are increasingly shopping around for low-fee options.

"Banks also offer some fee-free and low-cost ‘all-you-can-eat’ accounts. So this is a good time to shop around for a new account if you think that you are paying too much. And with new transaction account switching services starting on 1 July, it will be even easier to move your transaction account if you find a better deal," he said.

In spite of the decline in fees, comparison site Mozo has claimed banks still hit consumer with high fees, citing high establishment fees, a $749 annual fee for Citibank's Citi Select credit card, a $2 fee for QSCU customers who enter their PIN incorrectly at an ATM and Gateway Credit Union's $60 annual fee for debit card holders.

"Unlimited fee-free banking is on the rise, and consumers can now get zero fee banking from a number of challenger banks. Customers now have genuine alternatives to the Big Four banks. It's insane to keep paying monthly account fees and transaction fees. You simply don't need to," Mozo director Kirsty Lamont said.