Reduce your bank charges to the bare minimum

A few weeks before each January 1st, most banks generally announce one or another tariff increase which concerns the monthly fee as well as refused transactions or cash withdrawals. This communication, widely relayed by the media, has the gift of angering many customers who then do not fail to vent their resentment on social networks. And often, they punctuate their intervention with a “this time, it’s decided, I’m changing banks”.

But why wait for a price increase to save money on your bank charges? Get started right away, especially if you’re not tied to a mortgage.

Indeed, if you have taken out such a loan, you may find it more difficult to give up your current account. It all depends on the contract with the bank. If it does not contain explicit provisions on this subject, the institution cannot require that you keep your current account there.

On the other hand, if the contract explicitly provides for it, you cannot close your current account without consequences. In fact, some banks reserve the right to revise the mortgage loan rate upwards if the customer closes his current account and therefore no longer pays his salary there.

That said, nothing prevents you from negotiating a new mortgage elsewhere. But, in this case, beware of costs related to the liquidation of your loan (reinvestment indemnity which corresponds to three months of interest, costs of cancellation of the mortgage) and those related when taking out a new loan (application fees, mortgage fees).

As an indication: for a new loan of 100,000 euros, notary fees can reach nearly 4,250 euros and up to 6,000 euros for a loan of 200,000 euros. The competing bank’s offer must therefore be significantly more attractive and bring in enough to offset the high costs.

Where can I find a free checking account?

If you disregard the accounts aimed at (more) young people, there are essentially two almost free current accounts, with at least one free credit card, too: the Green pack from Argenta and the Keypack from Keytrade.

“Almost”? Since last year, the Green customer must pay 1.50 euros by bank transfer or cash withdrawal made at the counter. If you are one of those who never perform this type of operation (and who will never need it), then the Green pack is a 100% free offer for your user profile.

On the Keytrade side, you should know that if you do not carry out at least 12 transactions per year with your credit card (which is relatively easy to implement), you will be charged 25 euros. Keep in mind that this is a deferred debit card and there are no fees associated with using this card to make a payment.

Several large banks also have a “free” account, but this freeness is essentially limited to the costs of holding the account.

In addition, and this is new in Belgium, Keytrade pays you 5 cents per transaction of at least 1 euro carried out from your current account. Note that since July 2021, Argenta has also allowed its customers to “earn” money through a cashback program (established in partnership with Cake). In short, customers of this bank get automatic refunds on certain online and offline purchases.

What else? Several large banks also have a “free” account, but this free access is essentially limited to the cost of holding the account and sometimes to holding a second debit card or withdrawing cash in the SEPA zone (as is the case at Argenta and Keytrade), but certainly not to the possession of a credit card.

In addition, in the event of replacement of a lost or stolen card or in the event of a direct debit being refused, these banks will generally charge you a fee, which again is not at all the case for Argenta or Keytrade.

If your debit card bears the Visa Debit logo, you can do without a credit card.

For example, the BNP Paribas Fortis Hello Pack is free, but replacing a lost or stolen card costs 10 euros. Also, it does not include a credit card. That said, holders of such an account benefit from a Bancontact debit card – Visa Debit. In other words, they can completely do without a credit card if it is intended to make certain payments online or at a motorway toll booth.

Simply put, if your debit card displays a Visa Debit logo, you can use it anywhere the Visa and V-Pay logos are displayed.

If your bank provides you with a Debit Mastercard instead, the principle is exactly the same: the latter gives you access to a wider network of merchants in Belgium, internationally and on the internet. In short, you can do without a credit card.

Where to find the cheapest possible account?

If you need much more services than those offered by the aforementioned accounts, do not hesitate to use a current account comparator. There is in particular the one developed by the FSMA (the Financial Services and Markets Authority in Belgium), which is available to you from the Wikifin portal.

In practice, you must indicate the specific services you wish to have. These include, for example, the number of debit cards, the type of credit card, the amount of withdrawals from other banks, etc.

At the end of the process (which is relatively quick and easy), you will then see a summary table fees relating to the various accounts, drawn up according to your preferences.

If, at the end of the day, you think you can, for example, do without paper transfers to save money, you can quickly adapt your preferences and obtain a new result. You can therefore test your appetite for different banking services and change your consumption profile.

Cet tool analyzes the data transmitted by around twenty banking brandsand they must keep the FSMA informed of the relevant tariffs at all times to enable it to keep the comparator up to date.

Note that you can, at the end of the process, compare up to five different current accounts simultaneously.

How do I choose an account for my children?

Generally, most accounts for children or young people under the age of 24, 25 or 29 are free. But sometimes there are additional costs. For example, if your child loses their card, some banks will replace it for free (but only once). But others don’t.

Do not hesitate to check the price sheets of different current accounts before making a final choice for that of your child.

Another example: for some banks, cash withdrawals are free if they are made from an ATM belonging to their network, while other banks allow young people to withdraw money free of charge from any bank in Belgium and Europe.

In other words, do not hesitate to check the price sheets of different current accounts before making a final choice.

How to change banks?

Thanks to the interbank mobility service, it is possible to switch quickly and free of charge to another bank: justnotify your new bank through the form of “Interbank mobility service request” available on the website of Febelfin, the Belgian Federation of the financial sector.

Your new bank will ensure that your payments are not interrupted. In effect, it will transfer your permanent transfer orders and your memo-transfersshe you will inform you of your active direct debitsshe will do delete your payment cards with your old bank, it will liquidate your old account on sight and will transfer the balance to the new one.

Elle will communicate herself your new bank account number to creditors who use direct debits (for example your telecom operator) or your recurring payers (your employer).

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