Basic accounts in the financial test: poor people pay much more


Everyone has the right to a checking account. Thus, even people without income or permanent residence to be able to participate in cashless payments. But calculated just in basic accounts, the financial institutions in the fees to strong. Up to 250 euros are due, as Finanztest complains.
Actually, basic accounts should also enable economically weak people to access cashless payment transactions. This is law since 2016. But just the poor have to pay disproportionately for the current account, as a recent investigation by financial test of 124 basic accounts at banks had to determine. For example, the account management of the most expensive financial institutions in the branch for the model customer costs well over 200 euros a year.

In some cases, the base accounts are even more expensive than at the last financial test two years ago. Above all, the costs for the monthly basic price or the transfer by paper have increased.

60 Euro annual fee acceptable

The most expensive basic account in the test is Salzlandsparkasse, closely followed by Targobank. For both banks, the basic account for the model customer of the foundation costs around 250 euros per year. At the Targobank this is just under 90 euros more than in the previous investigation. Also very expensive for the model customer are Sparkasse Holstein with an annual price of around 235 euros and Hannoversche Volksbank with 226 euros.

According to "financial test" 60 Euro annual fee are acceptable for a normal checking account. The banks like to justify the high costs with a higher effort. For example, opening an account is more complicated because the examination of personal data often takes longer. The fact that things can be done differently is shown by two regional banks. The PSD Karlsruhe Neustadt and the Sparda Baden-Wurttemberg charge no fees at all. And with at least 47 banks, low-paid customers have to shell out less than 100 euros per year.

Incidentally, the bank may deny the account opening only in rare cases. For example, if the consumer already has an account with another bank in Germany. And a basic account may also be terminated only under strict conditions. In case of dispute, consumers can contact the ombudsman of the respective association free of charge.

Vulnerability in the law

To better protect financially weak consumers, the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (vzbv) requires a clear statutory cost definition for basic accounts. "Basic accounts are designed to ensure that all consumers have access to an account and cashless payments, and banks have to base their basic account prices on the prices of regular accounts," says Dorothea Mohn, Head of Team Financial Market at vzbv.

It points to a blur in the payment account law. This only refers to a "reasonable" fee for a basic account. "This vulnerability means that the fees are getting higher, so people now have a legal right to an account, but can hardly afford it," said Mohn. "Institutions can free themselves by expensive offers from their obligation to the basic account offer", criticizes Mohn.

This is how the account change works

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