Danske bank are pulling out of Ireland (for personal customers) so I’ve been forced to look at alternatives. Like everyone else, I want free banking or as cheap to free as possible. I’ll run through what I’ve learned over the past few weeks researching my options…
The more money you have, the less fees you pay
We often joke about how the rich get richer and how massive amounts of wealth get transferred from the masses in to an elite few but this is a real example, right in front of our eyes… if you can maintain a minimum bank balance of €3,000 or have more than €1500 per month coming in to your account, you’ll pay little to no fees with all banks. If you can’t achieve that, then you’ll pay maintenance fees and in some cases, fees per transactions on top of the maintenance fees. So it really is a case of the poorest people getting hit the hardest. If you have a balance of €100 today and don’t touch it for 2 years, it’ll be worth €0 and then you’ll actually start owing some banks money beyond that… whereas if you leave €10k sitting in an account and don’t touch it for the same length of time, you’ll lose nothing. Fair? No. Clearly not… but that’s the type of world we live in today. Banks need to make money, people can’t afford to lose money and you’ve got this tug of war going on with the government acting as a very bad referee, allowing punches below the belt.
Why Permanent TSB are the best option (at the minute)
With Bank of Ireland, you need €3,000 in your account at all times. In order to avoid transaction fees. You’ll still pay their €5 quarterly maintenance fee regardless of how much you have in your account. They’re the most expensive option for a current account. That, plus it’s worth taking a look at this blog post on their online business banking. Read the comments on that post to see what other people have to say about it too… I know their online banking for personal customers is better but when I see this type of stone age system in place, it makes me angry. Angry because it tells me that these guys do not care about customers and the customer experience.
With Ulster Bank, you need €3,000 in your account to avoid all fees. With AIB, you need €2,500. With Permanent TSB, you need €1,500 flowing in to the account in a month to avoid all fees. So it’s a no-brainer to me. If you’re looking for free banking without having to keep a minimum balance in your account, Permanent TSB are your best bet. They’re all much the same with regards online facilities / apps.
Personally, all I want from a current account is:
- online banking
- mobile apps
- visa / mastercard debit card
- no fees for ATM withdrawals, bank transfers, direct debits or point of sale stuff
- no maintenance fees
An added bonus is having a local branch that i can actually walk in to and lodge cash using automated machines or talk to staff. So for me, Permanent TSB ticks all those boxes.
How to get free banking with PTSB even if you just have €1 to your name
Now here’s the bit where i tell you why Permanent TSB are the smartest option for most people… even if you don’t have €1500 flowing in to your account each month. €1500/month is €375/week which is actually way above what a minimum wage job would yield. So there’s a whole bunch of people out there that can’t meet the €1500 criteria.
Simply set up an additional savings account with them online (takes a few seconds) and transfer sums back and forth between your savings and current account until you’ve transferred at least €1500 in to your current account. So even if you just have €1 to your name, stick that in to your current account. Transfer it in to your savings account. Repeat 1500 times in a month and you’ll avoid the €12 quarterly fee. Transfers between your own accounts are instant so you don’t have to wait a couple of days for them to process.
If you’re too lazy to do that manually, you could set up a standing over (or 1500 of them) and automate the transfers each month. A hypothetical situation of course, but one that highlights why Permanent TSB are the best option around at the minute. With some clever rotating of funds, there’s no reason why everyone can’t avoid the quarterly fees and get back to free banking.