Current Account Charges Should Be Capped

This week I called on Bank of Ireland to cap the charges being imposed on its current account customers. Senator Noone described as ‘unfair’ the approach being taken by the Bank, which charges its customers 28 cent for each transaction.

Many Bank of Ireland customers will have had the unpleasant experience of receiving their first bill for new bank charges this week. The charges, which apply on a quarterly basis, relate to basic transactions such as using your debit card or withdrawing cash from an ATM.

As far as I am aware, there is no cap on these charges. Most people choose to use their debit card to pay for all everyday purchases, often in a bid to avoid carrying around large amounts of cash. But the Bank is penalising its customers for this approach with these excessive charges.

At a time when we are trying to boost consumer confidence and incentivise people to spend more, it is incredible that Bank of Ireland would put down such barriers to spending. This charging structure is bad for consumers, bad for retail and bad for the economy.

I cannot understand how Bank of Ireland can justify charging their customers 28 cent charge per transaction. If you consider that most of us use our debit cards at least once or twice a day, this charge can very quickly add up to a couple of hundred euro a year. This is on top of the money the Bank makes from charging interest on credit cards, loans and overdraft facilities.

Worse still, these charges can only be seen as regressive, as they mean that those who can only afford to withdraw a small amount of money at a time are being penalised, as they are being charged the same fee regardless of the amount. I notice that fees are waived for those who have more than €3,000 in their account at a given time, which again raises the questions of fairness and equity.

I would urge Bank of Ireland to take a fairer approach if it wants to hang on to its customers. Surely a better system would be to ensure that there is a maximum charge for a current account per annum.

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