Interest rates are lower than ever – just not for clumsy bank customers who overdraw their accounts. Savings banks charge an average of 10.35 percent, but there are clear regional differences.

Account statement: overdraft interest is high

TLong-term money, fixed-term deposits, even building loans: there is hardly an area where interest rates have remained well above zero. With one exception: the overdraft interest that banks charge if someone has overdrawn their checking account. This has just been impressively underpinned by the Internet in a comparison. Accordingly, the 381 German savings banks with their 47.8 million current accounts have an average interest rate of 10.35 percent per year. That was a decrease compared to the previous year, but only a very slight one: on average, interest rates fell by 0.06 percentage points.

For comparison: the average interest rate for a 36-month installment loan is currently 4.18 percent, according to figures from FMH-Finanzberatung, the interest rate for a mortgage loan with ten-year fixed interest rates is 0.72 percent.

There are also regional differences. Accordingly, the overdraft interest rates at the savings banks in Berlin and Brandenburg are the lowest at 9.13 percent on average. Then come Hamburg with 9.59 percent and Saxony with 9.76 percent each. Those who live in Bremen, on the other hand, have to pay an average of 11.71 percent overdraft interest. If you exclude the city-states, the overdraft interest in the state of Hesse is the highest at 10.82 percent. Sparkasse customers in North Rhine-Westphalia have to pay an average of 10.77 percent. In Bavaria the average overdraft rate is 10.29 percent.

A total of 212 savings banks demanded more or at least the average value of 10.35 percent, reports the Internet portal. 133 savings banks managed to undercut the nationwide average of all banks from the various banking groups of 9.68 percent. The cheapest is still the Sparkasse Holstein with 5.71 percent. The red lantern now has the Sparkasse Gengenbach in Baden-Württemberg with 12.31 percent. You have replaced the Sparkasse Mecklenburg-Strelitz. A total of 62 savings banks have reduced their overdraft interest rates in the past twelve months. In eleven savings banks, the overdraft rate has increased, albeit by only 0.01 to a maximum of 0.06 percentage points.

In the longer term, the overdraft interest rates for all banking groups showed a slight decrease on average. According to Stiftung Warentest, the average overdraft facility interest fell below the 10 percent mark about three years ago. Nevertheless, there are still many institutes that charge more than 10 percent. Some cooperative banks take even more than the savings banks, up to 13 percent. Some online banks, however, such as ING Germany with 6.99 percent or the Berlin direct bank DKB with 6.9 percent, depress the national average.

The banks often justify the high overdraft facility interest with the fact that the overdraft facility is only intended to bridge short-term liquidity bottlenecks – in particular, there is no credit check. This must be expressed in a higher interest rate with a risk premium. Nonetheless, there was always outrage from consumer advice centers and politicians that the differences between interest rates for other loans and the overdraft interest rates were so high. There have also been calls for statutory upper limits.

Around three years ago, the federal government introduced stricter rules for overdrafts, but waived very strict regulation. Among other things, the banks now have to write to their customers if they have largely exhausted their overdraft facility for a long time. Then they have to offer them a cheaper loan to replace the overdraft facility. Banks and savings banks report that they are now proceeding without giving precise figures on the successes.