Standard bank account

Introduction

Many people in Ireland do not have bank accounts because of the cost or because they have never opened or used a bank account. These people are financially excluded. A person is considered financially excluded when he/she either has no access to services offered by mainstream financial institutions or does not use these services.

A standard bank account is a new type of account with no fees or charges for normal day-to-day services and no Government stamp duty on ATM or debit cards. The introduction of a standard bank account aims to reduce the number of people in Ireland who do not have a current account and help those people to manage their finances.

A pilot standard bank account was introduced in 2012 as part of the Government’s Strategy for Financial Inclusion and National Payments Plan. It is intended to introduce a standard bank account nationwide when the findings from the pilot have been analysed.

Rules

People whose only income is a social welfare payment will be able to open a standard bank account.

If the money going into your account - apart from any social welfare payments paid into your account by the Department of Social Protection, is usually under €4,500 in a quarter (a 3-month period) you will be able to open and keep a standard bank account.

Costs of a standard bank account

Normal, day-to-day services are free with a standard bank account. These include:

  • Taking out money at an ATM (cash machine)
  • Using a debit card in a shop to pay for something and also for getting cash-back in a shop
  • Transferring money to another bank account
  • Transferring money to pay a bill (like your electricity or heating)
  • Setting up and changing a standing order (this is where you have a regular amount coming out of your account and going into a savings account or to pay bills)
  • Putting money into the account (making a lodgement)
  • Getting a regular statement that tells you what is in your account and what you have taken out
  • Using phone banking and internet banking (there may be phone call or data charges)

Using your card while abroad may incur charges and you cannot get an overdraft or a cheque book with a standard bank account.

Standard Bank Account Pilot

A pilot scheme took place in 2012 to test the response of consumers who open a standard bank account and determine if the product meets their needs. The pilot will inform the planned national roll-out of standard bank accounts, scheduled for 2013. A report on the pilot scheme is due.

The standard bank account was offered during the pilot by Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks and Permanent TSB in three locations:

  • Tallaght
  • Tullamore
  • New Ross

Where to apply

Standard bank accounts are not currently available. It is intended that they will be introduced once the findings from the pilot scheme have been analysed.

More information is available in the guide to Standard Bank Accounts - Introducing Standard Bank Accounts (pdf).

Other organisations also support this initiative, including:

One Family

MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service)

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Society of St Vincent de Paul

Page edited: 4 October 2013