Barclays triples basic account fee
Barclays is tripling its potential daily charge for basic bank account customers if they have insufficient funds in their accounts to pay direct debit and standing orders.
Consumer groups have warned that the change could increase the financial exclusion already experienced by the poorest people in society, with the risk of high charges discouraging them from opening an account.
Basic bank accounts can be opened by people with poor credit scores, including undischarged bankrupts, who would be turned down if they applied to open a standard account.
All that is required is usually ID such as a passport, EU Identity Card, driving licence or proof of receipt of benefits.
They enable customers to have wages and benefits paid into the account and offer access to cash machines although this may be limited.
Bills can be paid directly from a basic bank account but they do not offer overdrafts, cheque books or credit facilities.
Under Barclay’s rules, basic account customers are currently charged £8 a day if there are insufficient funds to cover payments such as direct debits.
However, from March 2012 customers will be charged £8 every time that a withdrawal is attempted, up to a maximum of three times, which means they could end up with a daily fine of £24.
The change is being introduced by Barclays as part of its efforts to reduce costs.
A Barclays spokesman said: “We want to ensure this product remains financially sustainable so that we can continue to help those at risk of financial exclusion gain access to banking”.
Other banks have also recently introduced changes to reduce the costs they incur as a result of providing basic bank accounts.
RBS recently restricted access to cash machines for its basic bank account customers to RBS cashpoints only, because it is charged if its customers use a cashpoint belonging to another bank.