Before the planned ECB interest rate turnaround: First banks are canceling negative interest rates

Will it be worth saving again soon? In view of the interest rate hike announced by the European Central Bank, more and more banks are abolishing the custody fee.

Before the planned ECB interest rate turnaround: First banks are canceling negative interest rates

Will it be worth saving again soon? In view of the interest rate hike announced by the European Central Bank, more and more banks are abolishing the custody fee. While 34 financial houses have already completely distanced themselves from it, many continue to adhere to negative interest rates.

The days of negative interest rates for call money and the like are coming to an end. Even before the expected first increase in key interest rates in the euro area in eleven years, at least 49 financial institutions have completely or partially abolished the so-called custody fee for private customers, according to an evaluation of around 1,300 banks and savings banks by the comparison portal Verivox. However, many are still waiting.

In view of the rapid increase in inflation, times remain difficult for savers anyway. According to the data, at least 426 credit institutions are still charging negative interest above certain amounts on the call money or current account (as of July 14). "As soon as the central bank removes the penalty interest rate on bank deposits, the negative interest rates for savers will also disappear across the board," expects Oliver Maier, Managing Director of Verivox Finanzvergleich GmbH. "A historic interest rate phenomenon is coming to an end".

At its meeting next Thursday (July 21), the European Central Bank (ECB) intends to raise key interest rates in the euro area by 0.25 percentage points in view of record inflation. It would be the first rate hike in eleven years. In September, the central bank held out the prospect of another - possibly larger - rate hike.

Banks still have to pay 0.5 percent interest if they park funds at the ECB. Many financial institutions pass the costs on to customers. Several large institutions, including Deutsche Bank, have announced that they will reduce negative interest rates for their customers in line with ECB decisions. According to Verivox, many banks and savings banks automatically reduce the negative interest rates in the event of an interest rate adjustment anyway, because they have expressly linked the custody fee to the ECB deposit rate. "If interest rates rise in the future, the business with savings deposits will become attractive again for the banks. The first institutes are already positioning themselves for this," explained Maier.

According to the evaluation, 34 financial institutions have already completely abolished their negative interest rates since the end of April. The allowances were increased significantly at another 15 institutions, so that at least the majority of customers no longer have to pay negative interest. Another institute has decided to abolish it completely, and negative interest will no longer apply on August 1st. In addition to online banks, the financial institutions that have initiated the turnaround include many regional institutions, including several Sparda and PSD banks as well as Volksbanks and savings banks. The wave of negative interest rates is also losing momentum, according to the consumer portal Biallo.de.

The custody fees mainly affect new customers. If a financial institution wants to demand negative interest from existing customers, it must agree this individually with those affected. Consumer advocates generally consider negative interest on private credit balances in checking and money market accounts to be inadmissible, regardless of whether it is for new customers or existing customers. The Federation of Consumer Organizations has therefore filed lawsuits against various credit institutions.

The foreseeable end of negative interest rates is good news for bank customers. Due to the ECB interest rate turnaround, savers can also hope for rising interest rates for fixed-term deposits and the like. However, the high inflation is now gnawing at the savings. For 2022 as a whole, the Deutsche Bundesbank expects an inflation rate of 7.1 percent in Europe's largest economy.

Verivox evaluates the conditions for call money, giro and clearing accounts from around 1,300 banks and savings banks on the Internet. Since not all institutions publish their negative interest rates freely accessible on their website, there could be other institutions that charge negative interest rates or have already abolished them.

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