Bank charges: few significant price changes in 2021

According to its Observatoire des tarifs bancaires (OTB), published on October 18, the Comité consultatif du secteur financier (advisory committee on the financial sector) has noted a "high degree of stability in bank charges as of January 5, 2021" for the main fees for banking services. As it does every year, the organization, which is attached to the Banque de France, scrutinizes the fee schedules of establishments on the French market.

Virtually stable bank charges

On a panel representing 98.8% of market share, bank tariffs hardly changed between December 31, 2020 and January 5, 2021, the date on which banks released their latest tariff schedules for the rest of the year. More precisely, the annual report of the CCSF's Observatoire des tarifs bancaires 2021 shows that six tariffs remained stable or virtually stable over the year, seven tariffs rose very slightly and just one fell.

There are a number of reasons for the stability of rates, starting with the fierce competition in the banking sector, which is undergoing radical change, particularly with the proliferation of online banks. In order to attract new customers and retain existing ones, these banks are seeking to be as competitive as possible on price. 

Among the rising charges are account maintenance fees, which have risen by 1.85% between 2020 and 2021, with an average price of 19.32 euros per year. For online banks, the average annual fee is around 7.50 euros. While the rise in account maintenance fees is moderate this year, over the longer term it is far more impressive. Indeed, since 2012, average prices have jumped by 167%, an increase that is mainly explained by the generalization of this service.

Unlike account maintenance fees, most remote operations, such as online transfers and SMS alerts to inform savers when their account is in debit, have seen their prices fall or become virtually free of charge since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

Rising bank charges in French overseas departments and territories

While prices remain stable overall in mainland France, this is not the case in the French overseas territories. The Observatory reports that eight out of 17 weighted average fees have risen in territories using the euro. Account maintenance fees have risen by 12.3%, to 2.43 euros, and international debit cards by 1.9%, to 81 centimes. In territories using the Pacific franc, six out of 14 rates have risen, three of them by more than 2%.

However, OTB believes that, after two years of stability,"it is not surprising that surveys (...) show less favorable trends ".

As a result, bank charges in France will remain stable in 2021, following a slight increase in 2020. In the French Overseas Departments and Territories, however, they will rise more sharply this year.