- Bankwest Zero makes a positive contribution to lowering customers’ foreign ATM fees and creating more competition and choice in the everyday banking transaction market.
- It’s also a positive step not to charge customers direct debit dishonour penalty fees provided they don’t exceed the safety net.
Before wide-ranging ATM fee reforms were introduced in March 2009, CHOICE raised serious concerns about the fees that some banks were planning to charge customers who used ATMs owned by other financial institutions and companies. As the “foreign” institution charges you a fee that covers the associated costs and provides them with a profit, it’s blatantly unfair for your own bank to levy you with an additional “disloyalty” fee for using someone else’s ATM.
CHOICE’s ATM campaign was a success, with NAB and Westpac scrapping their plans to charge disloyalty fees. However, the “foreign” ATM provider (whether a bank or private company that owns the ATMs you see in pubs and clubs) will still charge you; $2 is the average fee for each withdrawal. You even have to pay them to display your account balance on-screen.
One exception, however, is Bankwest, which was acquired by Commonwealth Bank. One of the three accounts it’s recently introduced, Zero, for personal customers, actually refunds its customers the fees that the big four banks (ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac) charge when you use their machines.
- No ATM fees at the big four banks' or Bankwest's machines, no monthly account-keeping fees, and unlimited free electronic transactions.
- When you use an ATM that belongs to one of the above mentioned banks, Bankwest refunds that operator’s ATM fee to your account (though you will pay for ATM transactions overseas).
- Zero offers a $100 “safety limit” – unless you overdraw your account by more than that, you won’t be charged a direct debit dishonour penalty fee.
- Bankwest Zero won’t suit everyone as it’s only available to those depositing at least $2000 per month (for example, their salary).
- Like most transaction accounts, the interest rate is also zero.
- If a transaction causes your account to become overdrawn beyond the $100 safety limit, you’ll pay $15 each time, up to a limit of $45 per day. If a cheque or direct debit from your account is rejected due to insufficient funds (beyond the $100 safety net), the penalty is also $15. At least Bankwest has reduced these penalties, which were previously among the highest in the industry.