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Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Ulster Bank says banking charges 'under review' following reported return

The Irish Independent reports today that the bank – the last major bank with mostly free banking – will change tack.

ULSTER BANK has said it is keeping its free banking offering ‘under review’ following a newspaper report that it is set to scrap its customers’ automatic entitlement to banking without transaction fees.

The Irish Independent reported this morning that the bank was set to announce a new charging structure for its current accounts, ending its current system where any customer staying within their overdraft limits does not pay transaction fees.

Currently account holders who remain in credit, or within their agreed overdraft limit, do not pay account maintenance fees, nor chequebook, standing order, Direct Debit, withdrawal or statement fees.

Charlie Weston reports this morning, however, that the bank will “shortly” announce an amendment to this system which would end the system.

Weston adds that the exact details of the charges had “yet to be finalised”, however. The Sunday Times had carried similar reports in January.

A spokeswoman for the bank told this lunchtime that Ulster Bank “does not charge a monthly fee on standard current accounts”.

“As with all our products and services, we keep our current account offering under continual review,” the spokeswoman added.

Ulster Bank is the last major bank to waive the transaction fees on its current accounts without requiring customers to keep relatively large amounts of cash on hand.

AIB had confirmed in March that it was to introduce new conditions in order to retain the free banking services, effectively meaning the return of banking fees for hundreds of thousands of current account holders.

Its new system, which will take effect from next week, means that customers will be required to keep a minimum cash balance of €2,500 in their accounts for the entirety of a free quarter in order to avoid transaction charges and standing fees.

Otherwise, account holders will be expected to pay €4.50 per quarter as a maintenance fee, with a further 20c charge for every electronic transaction and 30c for any staff-assisted transaction.

AIB says the moves meant around 60 per cent of its 1.5 million current accounts would now be liable for fees, though some of those had been inactive – falling short of the ten transactions per quarter needed to maintain the free arrangement – and been liable for them anyway.

Bank of Ireland had adopted a similar regime in late 2010, requiring customers to keep a minimum balance of €3,000 throughout the quarter, as well as maintaining a minimum number of transactions, in order to retain their exemption from a 28c transaction fee.

Read: Customers should consider ditching AIB over new charges – NCA chief

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