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Give fees the flick

Andrew Willink - Finance Expert
Wednesday, December 02, 2009

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The big banks made headlines in 2009, announcing plans to slash or scrap a range of fees on everyday banking. But there are plenty of accounts offering easy fee-free banking – if you know where to look.

A transaction account is essential for most of us. But they often come laden with fees and charges, making everyday accounts a source of rich pickings for financial institutions. In 2008 alone, our banks collectively pocketed $1.8 billion in fees on deposit accounts.

Some penalty fees are avoidable, but others like account keeping fees are not. However, there is a range of accounts that have done away with the bulk of fees – provided you follow certain conditions. Meet these, and you could save a fortune each year in unwanted charges.

HSBC’s Online Savings account offers many of the features of a transaction account but charges no monthly fees at all. Other charges may apply, and you’ll need a minimum of $2,000 to open the account.

Bankwest’s Zero Transaction Account charges zero monthly transactions fees, and with an ATM network comprising Bankwest machines plus those of the majors – ANZ, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac – it shouldn’t be hard to avoid foreign ATM fees. You’ll need to tip at least $2,000 into the account each month to enjoy the fee savings, which is achievable if you have your wage or salary credited to the account.

St George Bank’s/BankSA Complete Freedom account also waives the monthly $5 fee if deposits total $2,000-plus each month.

In a different vein, Bank of Queensland’s Reverse Charges account waives the monthly $4 fee and pays account holders an extra $2 per month if you maintain a minimum monthly balance of $2,000. It’s a perk worth up to $72 annually.

In late 2009, ING Direct launched its Orange Everyday account that offers fee-free banking with even fewer strings attached. There are no monthly fees, no overdrawn fees and if ATM withdrawals are for $200 or more, you pay zero ATM fees at any ATM in Australia. Stick to cash withdrawals of $200 or more via EFTPOS and ING Direct will pay you 50 cents per transaction.

Accounts that pay you for your everyday banking? Now that really does deserve some fanfare. Trouble is, changing bank accounts comes with the hassle of redirecting the direct debits and credits that flow into and out of our accounts. If this sounds like hard work, an easy way to save on fees is by doing the majority of your banking online or over the phone.

Don’t waste your hard earned money on bank fees when it is easily avoided by shopping around online and scoring the best deal. Who knows? It could even save you money!

Important information:This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published: Wednesday, December 02, 2009


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