Monday, 24 June 2013

Barclays heads bank commission charges list, Santander and Unicaja follow

SPAIN One of the leading consumer organizations, FACUA, reports that their research reveals that bank customers are paying up to €200 per year in commission charges on a single account. The average of €145.82 is measured against a consumer/finance profile that looks like this: he or she pays six bills by direct debit, pays seven payments with a debit card tied to that single account, and pays at least one purchase per month with a credit card that is also tied to that account. He or she also makes two transfers, pays in two cheques and pays another two standing orders per year. (Note: The report equates the terms 'direct debit' and 'standing order', the latter which does not exist in the Spanish banking system as understood, for example, in the UK.) The top charges in Spain come from>>>
Barclays (€200.40), Santander (€177.40) and Unicaja (€176.20).
FACUA carried out the study after a comparative investigation was made by its federation in Andalusia regarding the commission applied by twelve banks to current and savings accounts for maintenance, administration, paying in cheques, transfers and being overdrawn.

The study refers to accounts where users are not obliged to state their salary or pension or to contract other bank services, conditions under which many banks waive most of their fees, usually through special promotions stating so.

After complaints about the telecommunications sector, FACUA received most complaints about the banking industry in 2012, primarily motivated by the application of abusive fees and commissions.

Only ING Direct did not apply fees or commissions to current accounts for maintenance, administration, paying in cheques and transfers, among the banks surveyed

Double commission fees for being overdrawn
If the customer becomes overdrawn, even by a few euros, or even cents, banks will charge an average of €13.50. Heading this particular list were Santander and Barclays, both of whom charge €18. Banco Popular charged a minimum of €6 for an unsolicited overdraft, but only after it exceeded €60.

A demand by the bank for covering an overdraft, in writing, costs an average of €33.91, but Banesto charges €39, the highest such charge in the survey.

Maintenance and administration
Among the twelve banks surveyed, where the average annual maintenance charge was €47, the highest charges came from Barclays (€72), followed by Sabadell, Unicaja, Banesto, Banco Popular and Santander, all of whom charged €60.

Only two of the twelve banks did not levy maintenance fees for the privilege of keeping the customer's money under lock and key: ING Direct and Activobank. However, all of them, except ING Direct again, charge so-called administration fees, which is applied as a fixed quantity for each note made on the account; in other words, every time a payment is made, in or out, a charge is applied. (Sabadell does not charge for the first five and Unicaja does not apply it for cheques paid in.)

Eleven of the twelve banks make their charge information abvailable on their online banking facility (the exception being Bankinter), where the average charge is €0.52. The highest administration charges, €0.60, are applied by Activobank, Barclays, Unicaja, Sabadell, La Caixa, Bankia and Santander.

The average amount charged on manually issued transfers to another bank or city made through an account is a minimum of €3.41 or 0.32% if it goes above this amount.

Sabadell charges the highest fees for transfers, a minimum of €8 or 0.60% if it goes over this amount.

Paying in cheques
Paying in cheques from another bank or city carries an average commission fee of €2.48 as a minimum, or 0.30% if above this figure.

The most expensive is Barclays, which charges a minimum of €4 or 0.45% if higher. For cheques of a larger amount, the highest commission fee is charged by Bankia, 0.75% of the amount (with a minimum of 3.10 Euros).

ING Direct is on the other end of this list, since they make no charges for the service.

FACUA warns that some banks, such as Santander, apply a different commission depending on whether the cheque is paid in in the same place (same city) or not. In 2005 The Bank of Spain pointed out that "in principle there is no technical reason or cost that supports a differentiation in commissions of that nature", for which reason it has indicated to banks that "they should try to abolish them". Evidently, Sabadell paid no heed.

Bouncing cheques
Bounced cheques carry an average minimum fee of €13.75, or 4% of the amount if above this amount.

The highest minimum amount for a bounced cheque is the €18 is charged by La Caixa, Unicaja and Santander.

Account deposits
FACUA is receiving complaints from numerous users in reference to commission charges for paying in cash to the account of a third party at the cash desk.

Of the information that FACUA has been able to obtain, La Caixa charges €2.00 Euros for this service and both Sabadell and Popular charge a commission fee of €1.50 Euros if it is paid into a company account.

The Bank of Spain in its 2010 and 2011 annual reports stated that "accepting cash payments as credit in the receiving bank itself constitutes a service of the cash desk, an inherent part of the account contract and, therefore, cannot be remunerated in an independent way. Or rather, given that cash desk services, on this assumption, are repaid through the maintenance commission fee, the deduction of any other commission is considered inappropriate".

The second most criticised sector
In 2012 banks were second on the list of most criticised institutions, followed by telecommunications (mainly mobile phoe matters)
as indicated in FACUA's annual evaluation, What do consumers criticise?

Complaints about banks in the association doubled in 2012 compared to 2011, coming together in 16.5% (in 2011 it was 7.8%). In this sector the criticisms that stand out are for irregular commission fees and the application of abusive clauses in personal loans or mortgages.

Surveyed organisations
FACUA has carried out the study taking as a reference the maximum tariffs published by the banks on their own websites, between January and February of 2013, without contracting any related service or complying with any requirement such as defining the salary or pension. The banks surveyed were Activobank, Banest, Bankinter, Bankia, Barclays, BBVA, ING Direct, Unicaja, Sabdell, Popular, La Caixa (CaixaBank) and Santander.

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