According to an investigation by Stiftung Warentest, banks and savings banks have increased the fees for the so-called basic account, in some cases significantly. In 24 cases, the account management in the branch costs more than 200 euros a year, the most expensive bank charges 334.30 euros. For more than six years, every citizen has been entitled to an account even without a regular income. Consumer advocates called for legal requirements for the cost of basic accounts.

In the past, for example, people without a permanent address or refugees often found it difficult to open an account. The legal situation in Germany changed with the implementation of an EU directive. The basic account should enable people with very little and irregular income to participate in cashless payment transactions, explained Stiftung Warentest. The account usually costs these bank customers more than salary and pension recipients.

Basic account prices increased

The comparison of 222 account models at 141 institutions (as of November 15) resulted in some cases in higher costs than in the first test five years ago. Many credit institutions have therefore increased the monthly basic price, the price for paper transfers or for the Girocard. Some money houses raised several items.

A free basic account for account management in the branch is no longer available for the evaluated models. A total of 22 institutes charge less than 100 euros a year. The cheapest cost a little more than 60 euros. Three institutes offer a free model for online account management.

Vzbv: Basic account should not cost more than current account

“The costs for basic accounts are already too high compared to those of ordinary current accounts,” criticized Dorothea Mohn from the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv). “Last year’s price increase has added another shovel.” This makes it more difficult for consumers with low incomes to access the account. Mohn demanded that a basic account should not cost more than a comparable current account from the same provider. “For this purpose, the Payment Accounts Act should contain specific requirements for the amount of the fee for basic accounts.”

So far, the law has stipulated that the price should be based on standard market rates and should be reasonable. The current law gives banks too much leeway, argues Stiftung Warentest. Banks and savings banks usually justify the comparatively high price with the additional effort for advice and opening compared to the conventional current account.