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Is Your Bank Ripping You Off With Their Fees?

Author: Megan Ellis
Date: 2017-05-19
Each bank has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to value-for-money. Here is a look at the different account fees at SA’s banks.
Wading through the price lists of different banks to see which offers the best value can be a daunting task. From savings accounts to credit cards, each bank has their own strengths and weaknesses. Luckily for you, CompareGuru has done some of the legwork to summarise a comparison of fees across our local major banks. See the different categories and comparison tables below:

Gold Cheque Accounts Across Banks

Different banks use different names for their bank account packages. For this table, we compiled all the Gold Cheque Account packages for different banks. Nedbank, this is named a Savvy Plus account. In Standard Bank's case, this is called an Elite Banking account. Capitec only has one type of transaction account though, which was included in the table.
Fees Absa Capitec FNB Nedbank Standard Bank
Monthly cost R98  R5.50  R65 (Free with min balance of R10 000) R100  R100
Minimum salary needed R10 000 pm  N/A  R7 000 pm (R84 000 pa) R3 000 pm  R5 000pm
What's free? Internet/cellphone banking Monthly e-statements Internet debit orders EFT between linked accounts Notification SMSes Certain Internet/app transactions E-statements Salary deposit Loan repayment deposit Online/cellphone banking Monthly e-statements Unlimited swipes Free withdrawals at certain supermarkets Online/cellphone banking Unlimited card swipes Unlimited debit orders Four Nedbank ATM withdrawals Notification SMSes Cheque/debit card swipes 4 ATM cash withdrawals 3 ATM deposits Security SMSes Monthly e-statements
Benefits Lump-sum death benefit, Absa Dining Spouse discount Discount for balance over R30 000 Access to Global One card programme  eBucks Rewards Programme Nedbank Greenbacks Rewards Programme Nedbank Affinity Programme  UCount Rewards Programme

Depending on the benefits and transactional fees of an account, you will need to weigh up more than just the monthly service fee. Some banks are expensive with few rewards or free benefits. Others are cheap in terms of monthly fees but come with many extra transactional costs. To decide which is best for you, look at both your budget and your needs.

Gold Credit Card Accounts

If you qualify for a gold cheque account, you will likely qualify for a credit card at the same bank. However, like with transactional accounts, credit card account fees vary between banks. The table also shows that the banks with the cheapest transactional accounts aren't necessarily the cheapest for credit cards. This goes the other way too - the bank with the most expensive cheque account doesn't necessarily charge the most for a credit card account. Again, Capitec only offers one type of credit card account, but was included among the gold credit card accounts at other banks. Have a look at the different fees and benefits below:
Fees Absa Capitec FNB Nedbank Standard Bank
Monthly cost  R42  R50 R43 R30  R45
Minimum salary needed  R4 000 - R20 000 pm  R3 000 (Excludes self-employment)  R7 000 pm (R84 000 - R299 999 pa) R8 334 pm (R100 000 pa)  R5 000
What's free? Online/mobile banking Credit card purchases Online and ATM transactions Unlimited swipes Online/cellphone banking Online/cellphone balance inquiries Monthly e-statements Auto-payments All transaction fees Extra card Online/cellphone banking SMS notifications Unlimited swipes Online/cellphone banking SMS notifications Auto-payments
Benefits Up to 57 days interest-free credit on specific transactions Personalised interest rates Bidvest Travel Lounge discounts Automatic basic travel insurance  Up to 55 days interest-free credit No currency conversion fees for international payments Up to 55 days interest-free credit Travel insurance for travel tickets bought using card eBucks Rewards Programme Up to 55 days interest-free credit Up to R1-million automatic basic travel insurance Greenbacks Rewards Programme  Travel insurance for travel tickets bought using card UCount Rewards Programme

Unlike the cheque account fees, most credit card accounts across South Africa's major banks are in a similar price range - between R30 and R50 per month. It is with these accounts that value-for-money becomes an important factor, as well as qualification criteria. You should also find out the interest rate tiers charged for your credit card.
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Savings Account Fees Across Banks

Savings accounts across banks are significantly more diverse than other types of accounts. This is because customers are increasingly looking to savings account alternatives which have higher interest rates and returns. In order to compare fees and benefits, we took a look specifically at tax-free savings accounts - the one common denominator across banks. Each bank offers different interest rates on their savings accounts though, depending on the amount deposited. However all accounts are subject to the same laws - a maximum total deposit amount of R33 000 per year, and a lifetime deposit maximum of R500 000 (due to their tax-free nature). Here are the results:
Fees Absa Capitec FNB Nedbank Standard Bank
Monthly cost  None  R5.25  None  None  None
Minimum deposit  R1 000  N/A  R1 000  R50  R250
What's free? eStatements SMS notifications Cheque deposits at ATM  N/A ATM deposits Monthly e-statement Monthly or weekly stop orders Internet banking inquires  ATM balance inquiries Internet banking statement
Benefits Interest rate between 4% and 6.5% Immediate access to money Earn interest from R1 Interest rates between 5.35% to 8% Limited to investment term Interest rates between 6.15% and 7.4% No age restriction Interest rates between 6.25%and 6.75% Zero fees or commissions Interest can be paid on a monthly basis  Interest up to 6.75% Immediate access to money
  As you can see, most banks don't charge you to open or have a tax-free savings account. But this doesn't mean they don't come with costs. Most of these accounts carry costs for any deposits or transfers, as well as for different forms of statements. Even with facts and figure comparisons, consumers should always do research and read the fine print on terms and conditions to look for extra costs for accounts. For example, for Capitec's tax-free savings account, a penalty of R300 applies if you draw money before the investment term is complete. Furthermore, any money withdrawn from the account cannot be put back for most tax-free savings accounts.