Consumers worried about paid-for bank accounts

The possibility of having to pay just to have a current account is a prospect that will irritate many people, not least those still angry with the rol…

The possibility of having to pay just to have a current account is a prospect that will irritate many people, not least those still angry with the role played by the banks in the economic crisis.

However, for some the situation is worse than that, as being able to afford the cost is something many cash-strapped consumers say they would struggle with, according to a survey by uSwitch.

It found that 75 per cent of Britons are against the charging of a fee for having an account, with 81 per cent unwilling to pay even a small cost for such an account.

Those certain they would not be able to afford it added up to 16 per cent, while 38 per cent said they would be concerned about the cost.

Moreover, issues of financial exclusion and unfairness will arise, with 32 per cent saying having to pay for an account would leave them considering whether they should have one at all, while 55 per cent said they believed those not in an overdraft would end up effectively subsiding those who are.

Even the argument by advocates of ending free banking that upfront fees would create more transparency are not accepted by most, with only 14 per cent saying they agreed this would be the case.

Personal finance expert at the site Michael Ossei said having more people opt out of having accounts could have severe consequences.

He said: "The impact of millions of households shunning bank accounts will be immeasurable – and the impact on household budgets will be immense.

"The fact is that those without bank accounts tend to end up paying more for household bills, goods and services – they are often excluded from the best deals and have to resort to more expensive payment options instead."

People with debt problems may therefore find a decision to do without an account backfires on them.

A recent meeting held by consumer group Which? in London saw members of the public able to address some of the panel making Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

Which? noted that during the course of the evening opposition to ending free banking was a commonly held view.

By James Francis
 

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