Recently the OCU (the organization of consumers and users) has denounced that the bank has raised the maintenance commission for less linked customers from 44 euros in 2018 to 125 euros. However, the main financial entities have simultaneously launched their ‘online’ versions of their accounts in which they do not charge maintenance or administration commissions, nor in which they do not need to comply with numerous requirements, such as the domicilón of receipts and the contracting credit or debit cards to draw them.
In other words, ‘online’ accounts are no longer the exclusive property of digital banks, and banks such as Banco Santander, BBVA or Banco Sabadell are committed to it. The objective is twofold. On the one hand, the customer that is less linked and, therefore, less profitable for the entity pays for certain services, such as account maintenance. At the same time, they also push you to contract new products if you want to avoid these charges. And, on the other hand, the ultimate goal is to gain digital customers, which means cost savings in the long run. That is to say, they attract new ones, but moving them away from the branches, whose number continues to drop, according to data from the Bank of Spain. Also getting them out of the face-to-face offices allows reducing their saturation. In the long run, this strategy is positive, since these customers end up connecting with the bank by contracting new products.
Santander and Banco Sabadell, from 240 euros a year to 0 euros
Banco Santander would be the most representative example of this strategy. The entity launched in 2021 Santander One for which it could charge up to 20 euros per month, 240 euros, per year to less linked customers. To avoid paying these commissions, the entity’s client must direct deposit the payroll and three receipts, and have a savings or financing product. If you did not meet any of these requirements, the commission was 10 euros. However, the bank was forced to reduce the conditions to avoid paying commissions, just direct debiting a payslip and receipts or using cards to avoid them. Otherwise, the commissions can be between 10 and 20 euros per month (if you only domicile the payroll or have no relationship with the entity). Instead, it has an ‘online account without commissions for new clients, without any requirement.
BBVA is another of the entities that is promoting this transfer from customers to digital customers. The bank has an ‘online’ in which it does not require any type of connection, not even direct debit of periodic income. Although in this case, the entity does make it easier to go to the bank. The acquisition of customers through channels is still very important, since it has gone from 7% in 2017 to 54%. On the other hand, if the client opts for the Vamos Account, but without meeting the requirements, which includes direct debit of a salary of 800 euros, a charge of 40 euros quarterly (160 euros per year) will be used. Banco Sabadell, for its part, launched an online account at the beginning of the year without commissions and without having to deposit a salary, while its branch clients, who do not meet the conditions, can be charged up to 60 euros per quarter, and 240 euros per year.
Caixabank would be the exception. The entity does sell an ‘online’ account for new clients, but the absence of commissions only applies during the first six months. From the seventh and, to enjoy an account without charges, it is necessary to direct deposit a salary of at least 600 euros, and have three direct debit receipts or make three transactions with the card. Otherwise, the entity would apply the same commissions for clients who work in physical offices: 60 euros per quarter and 240 euros per year. The alternative, within the group, is the Imagin digital account, which does give the customer access to a completely free product without any link.
Also in 2022, ING launched the Cuenta No Cuenta, which is totally free, without the need to sign a link. Its rival would be the Openbank Current Account. The one hundred percent digital entity of the Santander group is characterized by giving access to this type of account without the need to sign any type of link.
For this 2023 the banking trend is to continue betting on digital accounts. And it is that we must not forget that the destruction of neobanks and fintech, with these services, have earned a place among the public, especially the youngest, recalls Estefanía González, a personal finance speaker at Kelisto. And it must not be forgotten that those who contract an account now, in a few years may need a financing or investment product.