Negative interest is passed on as a higher fee

A good 400 of 1,300 banks have raised their fees this year, some significantly. Further steps from banks are expected in the next few weeks.

Withdrawal fees are old hat.

HHigher bank fees and, in some cases, negative interest rates for large deposits – bank customers apparently have to be prepared for more banks and savings banks than before. According to a study, around 400 institutes in Germany have increased their account fees this year, some significantly. After Germany’s largest Volksbank, Berliner Volksbank, introduced negative interest rates for new customers for deposits of 100,000 euros last week, banks are expected to take further steps, as the Internet platforms Verivox and Biallo unanimously report.

Media reports have already speculated that Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank could follow this week. However, the institutes themselves have opposed this so far. Commerzbank affirmed on Tuesday that negative interest rates for millions of savers are not to be calculated after all that can be foreseen. Deutsche Bank argues that they are observing the market very carefully, but are currently not passing on any costs for deposits in the broader customer business. “With customers with a higher deposit volume, such as institutional customers or international corporations, the bank is in close dialogue to agree on suitable investment alternatives or compensation models,” confirmed a bank spokesman on Tuesday.

However, managers of both major banks have indicated that fees for banking customers could rise as a result of negative interest rates. Deutsche Bank CFO James von Moltke had announced that the bank had to become “more robust” in sharing the consequences of negative interest rates. And Commerzbank boss Martin Zielke had promised higher bank fees as a substitute for negative interest rates. However, that does not mean that the bank should give up the free current account: “This is not the start of saying goodbye to the free current account.”

“We expect further substantial price adjustments in the next few weeks and months,” said Horst Biallo from the Internet portal of the same name. “I think that institutions tend to raise the fees for checking accounts because the mass of customers is too slow to completely change their bank details – 100,000 euros and more are much easier to postpone.”

In a comparison, the Internet portal found that 400 out of around 1300 banks and savings banks have already increased the prices for private current accounts this year. That was 128 of almost 400 savings banks and 264 of a good 900 Volks- and Raiffeisenbanks. The rest is accounted for by savings, PSD and direct banks as well as private banks with branches. Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have so far been rather reluctant to raise prices for private checking accounts, said Biallo. On average, the banks and savings banks raised the monthly prices for online, basic and traditional branch accounts by around 30 percent.

The monthly prices for so-called premium accounts rose less strongly, by around 20 percent. This means private accounts at a monthly flat rate of between 10 and 30 euros, with which all banking services relating to the current account plus current and credit card are covered. In addition to the monthly flat rate, many banks increased the prices for the girocard and credit cards or introduced completely new fees – for services that were free of charge last year. This applies to cash deposits and withdrawals, for example.

Many banks and savings banks are now taking money for cash withdrawals, said Biallo. Half of them let the customer make between two and five withdrawals in a billing period initially free of charge, the rest collects immediately. Many branch banks now also take money for cash deposits – and thus give up an advantage over direct banks.