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Key interest rate and negative interest rate: Banks abolish custody fees


For a long time, the key interest rate in the euro zone was low, so some banks charged custody fees for savings. This phase is coming to an end - but not at the same time for all financial institutions.

Four weeks after the first interest rate hike in the euro area in years, the vast majority of credit institutions have abolished negative interest rates on overnight money or current accounts.

But not all of them: According to data from the comparison portal Verivox, at least 79 financial institutions are still showing negative interest rates in their price lists.

Among them are numerous Volks- and Raiffeisenbanks as well as savings banks, but also, for example, the Klarna Bank or the GLS Bank (as of August 17th).

This means that more than 80 percent of the institutions concerned have dropped the so-called custody fee for private customers since the interest rate hike, as can be seen from the evaluation of around 1,300 banks and savings banks.

In view of the high inflation, however, savers currently have little reason to celebrate.

"The vast majority of banks reacted quickly after the interest rate hike and abolished their negative interest rates," says Oliver Maier, Managing Director of Verivox Finanzvergleich.

In the case of many cooperative banks and savings banks in particular, the negative interest rates were linked to the deposit rate of the European Central Bank (ECB) and thus automatically ceased to apply when the new key interest rates came into force on July 27th.

"The end of negative interest rates is sealed," said Maier.

He expects other institutes to follow suit in the coming weeks and months.

»After the next quarter turn at the latest, only a handful of banks should be charging negative interest rates in private customer business.«

Admissibility of negative interest is controversial

According to data from the consumer portal Biallo, 35 banks are still showing negative interest rates in their price displays or on their website (as of August 10).

At the peak at the end of May, 582 of the banks and savings banks surveyed demanded a custody fee, often amounting to 0.5 percent when certain amounts in the account were exceeded.

On July 21, the European Central Bank (ECB) raised key interest rates in the euro area for the first time in eleven years in response to record inflation.

This also eliminated the penalty interest of 0.5 percent that banks had to pay if they parked funds at the central bank.

The financial industry complained about billions in charges because of the penalty interest, many financial institutions passed this on to private customers from a certain sum on the account.

Consumer advocates consider negative interest rates on private assets in checking and money market accounts to be inadmissible, regardless of whether they are new customers or existing customers.

Six lawsuits by the Federation of Consumer Organizations (vzbv) against various banks are currently pending.

There are first judgments, but they are not yet final.

more on the subject

Custody fees: Why banks demand negative interest - and courts rightly overturn this A column by Hermann-Josef Tenhagen

"One can only hope that the industry will take the so-called interest rate turnaround as an opportunity to say goodbye to this legally very controversial instrument without further injunctions from us or the consumer centers," said vzbv legal officer David Bode.

"However, without appropriate procedural explanations, the proceedings will be pursued further."

At the same time, Bode criticized the financial sector's justification for the negative interest rates.

"Due to the considerable exemptions granted to institutions since 2019, we consider the alleged connection with interest on deposits at the ECB to be at least partially advanced."

Because of the ECB interest rate hike, savers can hope for rising interest rates for fixed-term deposits and the like.

The first providers are already trying to attract new customers with special conditions, reports Maier.

However, the high inflation is now gnawing at the savings.

"Even the offers with the highest interest rates do not by far compensate for inflation," said Maier.

Verivox evaluates the conditions for call money, giro and clearing accounts from around 1,300 banks and savings banks on the Internet.

Since not all institutions publish their interest rates freely accessible on their website, there could be other institutions that still charge negative interest rates.


Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2022-08-18

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