No monthly fees
If you have a transaction account
that charges you a monthly fee, contact your financial institution right away. Many now have an account without a monthly fee, though they may require a monthly deposit such as your salary.
A number of Bankwest customers commented positively about that institution offering them a better deal. “A customer with a Lite transaction account with a monthly fee who has their salary paid into this account (minimum $2000) could be offered a Hero or Zero account,” a Bankwest spokesperson told CHOICE. “Both accounts require you to have your salary paid into your account and offer unlimited electronic transactions without a monthly fee in return. On top of that, Hero offers 5% up to balances of $5000 and can be accessed with a debit card or electronically, and Zero is a traditional transaction account offering free transactions and no ATM fees for a large range of ATM networks (10,000 ATMs nationally).”Penalty fees
Last year saw many banks and other institutions cutting or removing penalty fees, yet more than one in three members surveyed were charged a penalty fee
at least once in the past 12 months. This was much higher for banks than building societies or credit unions. About one in 10 participants has been charged penalty fees three or more times; again, this was much higher for bank customers.Switching bank accounts
Fewer than one in 10 participants said they would be likely to switch
their transaction account in the next 12 months. The hassles involved – such as changing all your direct debits and credits – hold many people back from switching. One in four participants said they would be more likely to switch if they could keep the same account number (in the same way you can keep your mobile phone number when you switch network carriers).
Another issue is setting up new passwords and PINs. “I’ve finally memorised my full credit card number, PIN and two passwords/codes – it would be too hard to reset all these,” said one member.Savings accounts
Before switching your savings account, give your current provider one last chance to match the offer of the other institution. And if your current savings account has a higher introductory rate for new customers, ask them to give that to you as well. Even if you don’t get this rate for your existing funds, you may get it for any new deposits.Credit cards
If you’re paying interest on your card, check with your bank that you have the lowest rate possible. You can also ask for your annual fee to be waived before it comes due.
Source: CHOICE member banking survey of 2170 respondents, July/August 2010. We only used the results where we had at least 30 responses. Scores were rounded to the nearest whole number.