Money Insider: Surely it would be better if we all paid a monthly fee for our current accounts?

 

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The Independent Online

A report this week from the accounting giant PwC, entitled "No such thing as a free lunch", reignited the debate regarding whether we should pay a monthly fee for our current accounts. It's a topic that always gets a reaction.

If you're someone who keeps their balance in the black and never has to stump up for excessive overdraft penalties then of course you're going to baulk at the thought of having to start paying for something you've had for nothing.

However there are many arguments for and against charging a monthly fee.

As things stand the lack of revenue from monthly fees is recouped in other ways, including high unauthorised overdraft fees for people who exceed their agreed limit; no interest payable on credit balances; and the cross-selling of other financial products.

Surely it would be better if we all paid a monthly fee, but the first question is: how much? The PwC report found that 27 per cent of people would be happy to pay up to £10 a month for their banking.

If the back-door revenue-raising methods were cut out (and that's a big if) then I think paying £5 a month for your banking is not out of line. After all, we pay a standing charge for our electricity, gas and telephone services, so why not for current accounts?

It's easy to take your bank account for granted but think how much harder your life would be if you didn't have the ability to make online payments and ATM cash withdrawals 24/7, or have your payment card to make purchases all over the world.

It's interesting that the most popular current account in terms of switches from rivals is the Santander 123, which already charges a £2 monthly fee but also delivers cashback and a decent rate of credit interest.

From the banks' perspective the current model makes it hard for new entrants to compete as there's no revenue to be had until you start to build balances and cross-sell, when ideally we want to encourage challenger banks and innovation.

But if you're a bank you may prefer a pay monthly tariff but you wouldn't want to stick your neck out and be the first, as according to the PwC report 35 per cent of customers would consider moving their account if their bank introduced a monthly fee.

Maybe it's time for the Government and the regulator to take this issue by the scruff of the neck and sort it once and for all.

Mortgage rates still falling

Another week passes with savers facing rock-bottom returns while mortgage customers are spoilt for choice with some of the lowest home loan rates ever seen.

There has been a flurry of attractive deals launched in the past week, particularly for those with a decent deposit.

For example, at 75 per cent loan to value (LTV), Yorkshire Building Society is offering a two-year fix at 1.94 per cent with a £475 upfront fee, while for a longer-term deal, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society has just launched a five-year fix at 2.64 per cent with a £1,295 fee.

If you've got an additional 10 per cent deposit the numbers look even more attractive, with Chelsea Building Society hitting the best buys with a two-year fixed rate to 65 per cent LTV at a rate of 1.59 per cent and a £345 fee.

If you're coming to the end of your current mortgage deal these rates are a fraction of what you'd pay on your lender's Standard Variable Rate (SVR), so speak to an independent mortgage broker to find the best deal for you.

Andrew Hagger is an independent personal finance analyst from www.moneycomms.co.uk

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