JOHANNESBURG - The solidarity Research Institute (SRI) last week released its annual Bank Charges Report that compares the bank fees of several South African banks.

According to Connie Mulder, head of the SRI, competition among the banks with regard to bank fees has led to this being one of the few sectors where South Africans are paying less in real terms.

“This year held a surprise in that Old Mutual was the cheapest in the low-income segment, provided that limited funds are kept in the account. However, Capitec and Absa are breathing down its neck, and if consumers keep a balance of as little as R222 in their account, Capitec is the cheapest.”

Mulder said it became clear from the past nine editions of the Bank Charges Report that consumer behaviour had changed. “The slowdown in economic growth, as well as rising fuel prices and higher inflation, has led to consumers changing their habits and spending in order to save as much money as possible. In response to these changes in behaviour, banks no longer charge fees for subscribing to their online platforms, and most of them have added functionality such as sending money or buying airtime as part of their services.”

Mulder also emphasised that the changes in consumer behaviour necessitated a change in the SRI methodology with regard to transaction profiles.

“The 25-transaction profile mainly represents the average middle-class consumer. Here Capitec offers exceptional good value for money. However, should this consumer be looking for more than just low bank charges, the FNB Gold cheque account is the cheapest account that also offers a reward programme in the form of eBucks.”