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Negative interest eats its way through to the middle class

GLarger sums in the overnight money account can increasingly go into the money. According to an evaluation by the comparison portal Verivox, the number of banks and savings banks that charge customers negative interest rates has increased almost tenfold within twelve months. According to this, 126 financial institutions now charge penalty interest for larger balances, especially on the overnight money account, a year ago there were only 13 institutes.

In the meantime, lower sums are also being charged more frequently. According to the information, currently 27 institutes grant less than 100,000 euros as an exemption. With 3 banks, savers have to pay negative interest from the first euro.

“For many banks, the interest rate cut by the ECB in September 2019 was the initial spark to enforce negative interest rates in private customer business”, analyzes Oliver Maier, Managing Director of Verivox Finanzvergleich GmbH. “At that time, negative interest rates were still the absolute exception for private customers. Since then we have observed a sustained dynamic. ”The trend towards negative interest rates is unbroken.

According to the information, three credit institutions still exceed the penalty interest rate of the European Central Bank (ECB). You debit credit above the respective exemption amount with minus 0.6 percent.

Europe’s monetary authorities had tightened the penalty rate for bank deposits from 0.4 to 0.5 percent a year ago. Commercial banks have to pay the interest when they park excess money at the central bank. Even if there are now tax exemptions for certain sums, from the point of view of the industry this remains a billion dollar burden. More and more financial institutions are therefore passing the costs on.

Consumer advocate against negative interest

Europe’s largest direct bank ING is also considering penalty interest for new customers. “We currently have no concrete plans to introduce a custody fee for our existing accounts,” said CFO Norman Tambach recently. “We are monitoring the market development very closely and are seeing that more and more banks are introducing a custody fee for new accounts. We are accordingly preparing to react to these market developments. “Shortly afterwards, ING Germany CEO Nick Jue affirmed at a conference:” We have to prepare for everything, if the business situation makes it necessary for us to do it . “Currently, the institute, which is active in Germany and Austria, has no plans to introduce negative interest rates.

Consumer advocates consider negative interest rates forbidden in principle. They are only permitted for existing and new customers if the custody fee has been explicitly agreed with the customer. It is not enough just to change the general terms and conditions. Those affected should contact the consumer advice centers if they have any questions.

According to Verivox, 13 banks also charge a fee for the overnight money account, which is usually free. This would actually result in negative interest even if they were not shown as such. The comparison portal evaluates the price notices published on the Internet by around 800 banks and savings banks. According to the Deutsche Bundesbank, there were 1,717 credit institutions in Germany last year.

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