Knowing bank charges can help save you a few rands

It is important to know how much your bank charges you to transact.
It is important to know how much your bank charges you to transact.

If you feel you're paying too much in bank fees every month, you should check out what other banks are charging for the transactions that you typically do in a month.

Comparing what the various banks charge can be hard work. Not only do most of the banks offer a wide range of accounts, but they sometimes have complex fee structures.

For example, instead of charging a flat fee of X amount every time you draw cash from an ATM, some banks charge a fee that is determined by the amount you draw.

For example, Standard Bank customers who have an Access account are charged R1.82 per R100 or part thereof when drawing cash from the bank's ATMs. So, the higher the amount they draw, the more it costs them.

To make it easier for you, Sowetan Money has compared a range of fees for popular transactions on cheaper entry-level bank accounts offered by the leading banks.

Since everyone's banking habits are different, you need to know where you're incurring fees and if you could bank smarter by using a cheaper channel - such as banking via your bank's app - or switching to a cheaper bank account or even to a different bank.

If you aren't sure of how many debit orders you have, or how many online or app payments you make in a month, or how many times a month you draw cash - be it from your bank's ATMs, another bank's ATMs or a supermarket's till point - check your last two or three bank statements.

Don't look at the monthly fee only. At the beginning of last month, FNB adjusted its fees for the year - increasing the monthly account fee on the Easy Pay-As-You-Use option by 50c to R5.75 a month.

Capitec, which increases its fees in April (at the same time as Absa and Standard Bank), now charges a monthly fee of R5.80 for the Global One account. Nedbank, which revises its pricing in January of each year, charges a monthly fee of only R5.50 on the Pay-As-You-Use account.

According to the most recent Solidarity Bank Charges Report, "Absa and FNB have closely copied Capitec's offering . [and] the main difference between Capitec and the other banks remains that only Capitec pays significant interest on any balance kept in the main transactional account".

Capitec pays 4.85% interest on a positive balance in your Global One account. Charl Nel, the head of communications at Capitec, says that last month 700 000 Capitec clients earned more interest than they paid in bank fees, "effectively allowing them to bank for free", he says.

According to Solidarity's 2017 report, Absa's Transact account was the cheapest low- cost account.

"For clients with a somewhat higher net income, enabling them to maintain an
average balance of a few thousand rand, Capitec's account would be marginally cheaper."

Like Capitec's Global One account, Absa's Transact account is a pay-as-you-transact account.

If you use FNB's Easy Account, you can opt for a bundle - which means you pay a higher monthly fee that covers a bundle of transactions.

For R58 a month, the Easy bundle offers the following: a combination of 10 free electronic transactions (payments, external debit orders and prepaid airtime); free FNB ATM cash withdrawals up to R3 000 a month (including at ATMs inside retailers that dispense cash vouchers, cash at tills and card-less cash); and free cash deposits up to R3 000 a month (at an FNB ATM).

Nedbank describes its Pay-As-You-Use account as a "no-frills transparent account with a flat monthly fee, allowing you to pay only for what you use". There is no bundle version. Standard Bank offers a bundle version of its Access Account, but the bank says it's not actively promoting the

The bundle costs R59.52 a month, which gives you the following: two free withdrawals from the bank's ATMs, thereafter R1.82 per R100 or part thereof; an unlimited number of external and internal debit orders, stop orders, inter-account transfers, and point of sale purchases.

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