Researchers are predicting that the Australian banks will collect more than $5 billion in fees in the coming year as they aim to survive the global economic crisis.

Fujistu Consulting who conduct an annual ‘bank fee’ report have found that Australian households on average pay 22 per cent more in bank fees than British households, and 11 per cent more than those in the US. What this essentially means is that the average Australian household pays close to AU$1000 in fees each year, compared to AU$749 in the UK and AU$850 in the US.

In the context of the current global financial services crisis, banks are attempting to recoup profits by increasing fees.

ATM Bank Charges

Coming into effect this week are new ATM bank charges. Bank customers now face the prospect that they could be charged twice – by their own bank for using a “foreign” bank, and by the owner of the ATM.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has said it will not cap the fees being charged.

Consumer Advocate Choice says while accepting ATM charges for “foreign” customers are reasonable, banks should not be charging their own customers fees if they use other banks machines.

Some banks, including the Commonwealth Bank and ANZ, say they will not charge their customers the extra fee. However NAB, Westpac and St George have said they will continue to charge foreign ATM fees.

While it may be acceptable that ATM owners charge individuals who don’t belong to that particular bank, the costs should be transparent and reasonable.

Customers using ATMs not party to any arrangements with their bank will face “operator fees”, displayed on screens during the transaction.

Chris Riotto, Managing Director of Australian Lending Centre says “With pennies being pinched in these difficult times customers need to understand how they can minimise the ATM fees that they are being charged. Customers need to be conscious of using their own bank’s ATMs. By making larger withdrawals each time they use an ATM and by making online payments, customers will instantaneously begin reducing their monthly transaction charges”.

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