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Banks jack up ATM fees for non-customers

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Photo: DPA
10:33 CEST+02:00
Germany's big private banks are increasing fees for customers at other financial institutions to withdraw cash from their ATMs, making ordinary people pay the price for a bankers' spat.

For the past five years, it has cost non-customers €1.95 to withdraw cash from a different private bank's machine.

But Deutsche Bank and subsidiary Postbank have been charging €3.95 for the same service from September 1st.

Commerzbank will increase charges to €3.90 from October and some publicly-owned Sparkasse banks and co-operatives are also charging up to €4.50.

"Withdrawals themselves don't even cost one Euro," finance expert Frank-Christian Pauli of the National Federation of Consumer Rights Centres criticized.

But a Commerzbank spokeswoman said that "costs have risen and we can't offer [the service] for lower than the market rate."

A survey of 250 German banks by financial advice company FMH found that the average charge for non-customers to withdraw cash was €3.93.

'Maintaining ATMs is expensive'

Private banks had voluntarily kept their withdrawal fees low for five years despite failing to come to an agreement with Sparkasse and co-operative banks, who didn't want to set a ceiling for fees – saying that it cost them a lot of money to maintain their dense network of ATMs.

Sparkasse banks have the densest network of ATMs in Germany with around 25,000 machines, while co-operative banks (Volksbanks and Raffeisenbanks) have a total of 19,600.

By comparison, the Cash Group – Detusche Bank, Commerzbank, HypoVereinsbank and Postbank, who allow one another's customers to make withdrawals for free – have just 9,000 cashpoints.

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"It would be in the interests of all customers if German banks could set aside their old dispute and find an appropriate compromise on costs," Pauli said.

The four- or five-Euro fees charged for the usually relatively small amounts consumers withdraw at other banks' machines are "inappropriately high", he said.

SEE ALSO: Little by little, Germans move away from cash

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