Westpac drops online fees (and hikes the rest)

It has dropped its fees on a range of electronic banking services to compete with other major banks. Internet banking fees have fallen from 65c to 25c, Eftpos fees from 65c to 50c, direct debit from 65c to 20c and telephone banking from 65c to 40c.

Other transactions are on the rise. Staff-assisted transactions are jumping from $2 to $2.50, while writing a cheque will rise from 65c to $1. The changes follow National Australia Bank's restructure, announced on Wednesday, which saw over-the-counter transactions rise from $2 to $3.

"The new fee structure rewards people who bank electronically," said Mike Pratt, chief executive officer, Australian Financial Services. "The old system of a set number of free transactions does not allow people to take full advantage of the cost savings provided by electronic transaction methods."

Westpac will implement the changes from December 1. A new statement format is being introduced that will outline the banking service used and their cost. The aim is to encourage customers to reduce their banking fees by using electronic services.

A series of "safety net" arrangements will provide special assistance for customers receiving benefits from Centrelink. The key safety net is provided through Westpac's Basic account, with four free transactions per month, no monthly service fee and no minimum monthly balance required.

"Internet banking, self-service telephone banking and Eftpos are significantly cheaper than banking at a branch because they cost less to provide. As of December 1, they will be even cheaper," said Michael Hawker, group executive, Australian Business and Personal Banking.

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