CHENNAI: “It is easier to rob by setting up a bank than by holding up a bank clerk,” German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht once said. Many might be inclined to say the same on escalating bank transaction charges. But, increasing resistance and criticism on social media and elsewhere have started bearing fruit. State Bank of India recently announced that it would be cutting down certain charges.
But, many charges, both old and new, are still levied by banks. For instance, SBI permits savings account holders to deposit/withdraw cash only three times a month free of charge. Failure to maintain minimum balance quarterly will attract a fine. For instance, for accounts held in metro branches, the balance required is Rs 5,000. If this falls below Rs 3,750 (or 75 percent), the penalty is Rs 100 plus service tax. If it falls to Rs 2,500, the bank will charge Rs 50 plus service tax.
These charges vary across metro, urban, semi-urban and rural areas, with the latter attracting the least.
More than three ATM withdrawals from other banks’ ATMs attracts Rs 20 per extra transaction and more than five withdrawals a month from SBI ATMs attracts Rs 10 per extra transaction.
Other banks also have similar charges. HDFC charges Rs 150 per transaction if number of withdrawal/deposits cross four a month. Home branch transactions above Rs 2 lakh a day are charged Rs 5 per Rs 1,000, or a minimum of Rs 150. For non-home branches, free transactions are capped at Rs 25,000 a day, post which the same charges will apply.
ICICI Bank also charges customers if they exceed four transactions a month at home city branches, and levies Rs 5 per thousand rupees thereafter subject to a minimum of Rs 150. For non-home branches, ICICI does not charge anything for the first cash withdrawal in a month and levies the same charges for every extra Rs 1,000. Even cash deposits at ATMs are charged after the first free deposit. Axis Bank charges Rs 95 per transaction if they cross five per month. For non-home branch transactions, up to five deposits are free as long as they do not cross Rs 50,000 a day. From the sixth transaction onwards, it charges Rs 2.5 for every Rs 1,000, or Rs 95 per transaction, whichever is higher.