Changes to AIB free banking slammed
Consumer chiefs have criticised plans by Allied Irish Bank (AIB) to charge customers for transactions unless they have 2,500 euro in their current account.
The bailed-out lender announced it will change its criteria for free banking for up to 60% of its customers from May 28.
The National Consumer Agency (NCA) described the new requirements - to maintain a credit balance of 2,500 euro in a current account for a quarter - as overly restrictive and disappointing when people are struggling to manage their money
It called on AIB customers to review their statements to assess the charges they will be subject to and to consider switching accounts to maintain free banking.
Ann Fitzgerald, chief executive of the NCA, said: "Clearly, many people do not have 2,500 euro that they can leave permanently sitting in their current account.
"In addition, with no interest paid on credit balances, this means that consumers are losing out on up to 98 euro a year in interest that they could earn if this money was on deposit, depending on the type of deposit account chosen.
"Many consumers will be unable to meet this condition unless they move money from a savings account into their current account, thereby losing out on the interest they would earn."
Up to now, anyone who made at least one transaction using the AIB debit card and at least one debit transaction using AIB phone and internet banking in the same fee quarter got free banking.
ATM withdrawals, standing orders, direct debits, automated lodgements (eg salary), AIB phone and internet banking transactions and AIB debit card transactions are charged at 20 cent. Meanwhile, paper and staff-assisted transactions will be charged at 30 cent. They include cheques, counter withdrawals and lodgements, and staff-assisted transactions at any AIB branch counter or in the Post Office.
AIB maintains that after the changes, 40% of personal current account customers will still qualify for free banking including students, graduates and the over-60s. The bank said the move was driven by the need to enhance cost recovery across all AIB businesses.