We think banks that offer ‘free’ accounts cover the cost of running them with high penalty charges and hidden fees. Typically, these come from customers going – however briefly – into unauthorised overdraft. So it’s often the most financially vulnerable customers that pay the price for ‘free banking’. Which in our minds, is an unjust and questionable practice.
Here are some of the statistics that have informed our perspective on fees and charges:
- The 2018 Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) High Cost Credit review showed Banks made £2.4 billion a year from overdraft fees in 2017.
- Debt charity Stepchange reports financially vulnerable people are paying up to £225 a year in bank charges. And more than 2 million people in the UK are permanently overdrawn, with many trapped in a ‘vicious cycle’ of borrowing.
- Which? highlighted the ‘sky-high’ fees some banks are charging for unarranged overdrafts – up to seven times higher than those for payday loans.
Because of this, we’re proud to be upfront about the true cost of running a current account and the way we apply fees and charges. So all our current account customers share the cost equally and pay a flat £3 a month for the service they receive: including online banking, ATM withdrawals, unlimited money transfers, eco-friendly contactless debit card, cheque books on request, a friendly UK-based customer service team, and all the essential banking services you’d expect.
Look at it this way: just as organic food represents the ‘true cost’ of food production, we’re being transparent about the true cost of running a current account (though in truth, at our current size the monthly fee doesn’t fully cover our costs to run an account).
At Triodos, we’ve taken the decision not to offer unauthorised and unplanned overdrafts. Instead, we are following best practice by offering ways to carefully manage your money – such as SMS alerts and a mobile banking app – to warn people when they’re close to the red. And we encourage sensible planning for any credit needs, providing arranged overdrafts when we can, by request.
The idea banks can offer ‘free’ account services, while generating large profits by charging often financially vulnerable customers excessive charges, doesn’t seem right or fair to us. This stance is partly why the Daily Telegraph has named us ‘Britain’s first honest bank’. It’s a title we’re very proud of.
For more details about our current account, and our fees and charges, visit www.triodos.co.uk/change
Our mission at Triodos Bank is to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change. Where you choose to put your money, and how your bank uses your deposits, can reflect your values and we only lend money to organisations and projects that are making a positive difference to society. We’re the only 100% transparent bank – publishing details of every organisation we lend to, and invest in, so you know exactly where your money goes. That’s why Ethical Consumer, the UK’s leading ethical and environmental magazine, has rated the Triodos Current Account as having the highest ethical and environmental standards of any current account available in the UK.
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