Expatica news

Belgian bank charges rising

17 May 2004

BRUSSELS – The cost of having a bank account in Belgium has increased considerably over the last two years, according to a survey published on Monday.

The new study by consumer watchdog Test Achats found that nearly all of Belgium’s main banks have increased the charges they levy for banking services.

The only two banks that have bucked the trend – CBC and ING – already slapped heavy banking charges on their customers back in 2002, when Test Achats carried out its last major survey on the subject.

CBC has lowered its current account charges while ING’s have remained the same, the survey found.

Test Achats says banks are generally charging more for a whole range of electronic services like online banking.

Only telephone banking seems to have been untouched by the generalised price hikes, the survey found.

The biggest overall problem Test Achats highlighted was the fact that banks are very unclear about what charges they levy.

This makes it almost impossible for the average customer to shop around for the best banking deal.

The consumer watchdog also criticised the fact that it is still extremely complicated to change banks in Belgium, which means very few people bother to do so.

Test Achats wants people to able to take their bank account numbers with them when they move from bank to bank, in much the same way that mobile telephone customers can now carry their numbers with them between phone operators.

The consumer watchdog also wants the banks to absorb any costs linked to closing or opening a bank account.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news