The cost of bank charges in South Africa

The cost of bank charges in South Africa

Social media has recently been abuzz with complaints and debates about the role of financial advisors. Do they provide personal financial advice to assist clients with financial solutions for their financial wellness? Or do they are merely try to sell their financial products instead?

There is a myriad of financial products in the market including credit cards and loans. All of these constitute solutions for clients to achieve financial wellness.

Cheque Accounts
I recently went through my cheque account statements for 2018 and was shocked to find out that some of the charges and fees fluctuate from month to month.

The service fees should remain relatively unchanged unless external national factors such as interest rates change.

Other Fees will fluctuate in line with transactional and account activities such as electronic transfers and payments as well as cash withdrawals.

Know your bank charges and applicable fees
My cheque account statement lists four different types of fees under my bank charges section.

  • Service Fees
  • Cash Deposit Fees
  • Cash Handling Fees
  • Other Fees.

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My bank charges for cash deposit fees and cash handling fees are always zero month to month since all my income and payments received are always done electronically.

It is also understandable that the higher the status of one’s account, the higher the benefits and thus the higher the service fees.

For example, some banks offer qualifying clients a single account with benefits of both a transactional account and a credit facility with a linked credit card all in one card and single monthly fee.

Such a private banking account will attract higher monthly service fees for added benefits such as unlimited cash withdrawals, electronic transfers, prepaid online purchases and other online banking transactions.

Almost similar to cell phone contract deals which offer better packages such as unlimited calls and higher data packages for more expensive deals.

Banking Regulation
The setting of bank charges and fees is regulated and thus there should be a limit to the amount that banks can charge customers for different types of fees.

The National Credit Act regulates the fees and interest rates charged by banks and other financial institutions on most credit-related accounts such as

  • Credit cards
  • Mortgage bonds
  • Overdrafts
  • Vehicle finance
  • Personal loans etc

The Act does so by setting the maximum amounts of interest and fees the banks can charge.

The Ombudsman for Banking Services deals with complaints where banks charge customers more than their set fee or a fee in excess of a limit set down by law.

The Banking Association of South Africa requires all banks to uphold the minimum standards for service and conduct as specified in The Code of Banking Practice with regard to the services and products they offer.


Credit Cards
A similar regime of bank charges and interests applies for other types of accounts such as credit cards and home loans.

Read the fine print on the credit card agreements so that you understand your statements.

Your monthly credit card statements provide you with crucial information about

  • Your spending
  • Transactions
  • Income
  • Interest
  • Fees
  • Balances
  • Amount due for payment

It is important to know the Closing Balance and Payment Due Dates on your credit card.

Defaulting or making late payments will attract interest and penalties.

Similarly, fuel purchased on linked Fuel Cards, outward electronic transfers and cash transactions always attract interest from the transaction date.

These charges and fees could add up to a substantial amount at the end of the month if not closely monitored and controlled.

It is important to know how your credit card works and to manage your spending and transactions wisely in order to prevent unnecessary charges and fees.

In summary:

  • Spend wisely
  • Stick to your budget
  • Manage your expenses
  • Read your statements carefully on a monthly basis
  • Always pay your balances in full on time to prevent penalties and additional bank charges.

This way, you will be able to make huge savings in interest and bank charges which can significantly improve your savings to grow your nest egg and investments.

Written by:
Dr Thabo Diseko, MD (Personal Finance Coach)
Mobile: 076 125 4257
Twitter: @DisekoMogale

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