STATE-OWNED financial entity Bankia will no longer charge any annual 'maintenance' fee to its account-holders if their salary or other regular income is paid there, and charges for cards, bank transfers or paying in cheques have been scrapped.
Anyone whose wages, self-employed earnings or dole money of at least €450 a month is paid directly into their Bankia account, or pensions or sickness allowance if this is €200 or more, will escape the annual cost charged for its use.
Charges levied by most other banks purely for having an account open, even if it is empty – and applied per account – range from €12 to €36 a year or even more.
Most banks also charge an annual fee for having a credit card, and take commission when their customers pay in or cash a cheque or if they make a transfer to an account with another entity.
Bankia clients will also be able to withdraw money from any Euro 6000 or Banco Sabadell cashpoints up to four times a month without charge.
The move is expected to benefit at least 2.4 million customers.
“We've listened to the public and we want to offer our clients what they are asking for: simpler, more transparent products with no small print – we're the only bank which allows its customers to use all our services free of charge just by having their monthly income paid into their account,” said chairman José Ignacio Goirigolzarri.
Until now, Bankia charged €48 a year per account for the privilege of having one open, plus €20 a year for holding a debit card and €34 for a credit card – even if these were not used – and between €6 and €7 for transfers or for paying in amounts of €2,000 or more, making it one of the most expensive on the high street.
Transfers between different banks still take up to four working days to clear, whilst in other European countries, these are guaranteed within the hour and are usually instant, as well as free of charge.
Bankia is a fusion of the doomed entities Bancaja and Caja Madrid, which ceased trading due to poor fund management that has led to various ex-bosses facing court hearings.
Through the merger, they were bailed out by the Spanish State, which received a grant of €10 billion from the European Union.
Taxes levied on the general public had to be put up sharply to cover the debt repayment.
Bankia is now on the way to refunding some of the cash it received and announced plans last year to float 60% of its shares on the stock market.