Banks increase account fees

D.German banks have recently raised their fees significantly. Over the course of a year, the fees for consumers rose by an average of 6.4 percent, making them one of the strongest increases in prices in Germany during this period. This is reported by the Federal Statistical Office. In the inflation rate for October in Germany, which was negative overall, bank fees were one of the driving factors alongside, for example, the lottery prices.

In conversation with the F.A.Z. a spokeswoman for the office said that higher account management fees for checking accounts and, for example, fees for credit and debit cards contributed to this unusually strong price increase. In contrast, so-called custody fees and negative interest rates, which were recently introduced, expanded or raised by many banks, were not taken into account in this category by the Federal Statistical Office.

Both branch banks and online banks in Germany are taken into account in this six percent increase in prices, the spokeswoman continued. The banks may have reacted to the challenging environment for them due to the low interest rates and negative deposit rates of the European Central Bank.

Deutsche Bank is raising fees

On October 1, for example, Deutsche Bank had raised the account management fees for the current account, in some cases not insignificantly. Since then, the so-called “DB Active Account” has cost 6.90 euros (instead of 5.90 euros) and the “DB Best Account” 13.90 euros (instead of 11.90 euros) per month, apart from temporary discounts.

Commerzbank had also recently turned the fee screw. Not only was the so-called free current account made dependent on conditions. The limit for custody fees had also been lowered, for new customers from 250,000 to 100,000 euros. And on January 1st, the prices for lockers will also rise significantly nationwide.

Many savings banks and Volksbanks had already raised the fees for the current account and related services in the first half of the year. The Internet portal Biallo comes to 180 savings banks, where this was the case, and around 300 cooperative banks. For example, the Chemnitzer Sparkasse and Sparkasse Vogtland recently announced higher account fees.

Change in the fee structure

The account models for current accounts have also been changed in many banks. The Federal Statistical Office reports that there are now more and more account models with a flat-rate account management fee on the one hand and those in which many items are billed individually on the other. That doesn’t always make it easy for consumers to see straight away whether the account management will be more expensive for them or not. The Federal Office has tried to measure the effects of this change on the bottom line and to incorporate it into the consumer price development, as the spokeswoman said.

The sharp rise in fees was not only noticed by consumer price observers. The FMH-Finanzberatung, which regularly compares interest rates and other banking conditions nationwide, confirmed the trend observed by the Federal Statistical Office. Every month, on average, every twentieth bank changes the conditions for their current accounts, said Ania Scholz-Orfanidis, authorized representative at FMH. The way in which the banks increased their income varies. Not only the monthly account management fees and the annual fees for credit cards have been raised at many banks. Some banks also make changes to which services are free and which you have to pay for. For paperless bookings, among other things, there have often been new fees recently.

The Internet platform Check 24 has recently started offering a relatively complex comparison of current accounts among 500 offers, which has even been certified by TÜV. This company has also reported rising fees for account management at many banks. Since the end of September alone, i.e. within a few weeks, account management fees at online and branch banks in Germany have risen by an average of almost 2 percent, from 4.28 to 4.36 euros per month. This also includes current accounts for which no fees are due.


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