Getting incorrect bank fees fixed

If you think you’ve been incorrectly charged a bank fee you can make a complaint and ask for the fee to be removed or refunded. In some cases bank fees may be calculated or charged incorrectly, so it’s smart to check all the fees you’ve been charged and make sure they look right to you.

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What’s the issue?

Banks can charge fees incorrectly

Like most businesses, banks charge fees for the services they provide to customers. The fees that you are charged by your bank will depend on the particular types of accounts and services that you have.

In general, banks charge for things like:

  • Maintaining a bank account
  • Using an ATM from another bank
  • Late payments on credit cards
  • Exceeding your credit limit
  • Overdrawing your account when making a payment
  • Foreign exchange fees when banking in another country

Unfortunately, banks can sometimes make mistakes with how they charge fees. If you think you’ve been incorrectly charged a bank fee, you can make a complaint and get a resolution. 

What do you need to know?

The types of bank fees you shouldn't be paying

If you’ve been charged a fee by your bank that looks unusual or doesn’t add up, you can question it with your bank. Bank fees may be invalid where they are excessive, incorrectly assessed or you haven’t been notified about them.

Here are 5 examples of bad bank fees:

  1. The fee has been charged for a service that you didn’t receive. For example, if you’ve been charged a fee for a type of bank account (like a savings account) that you don’t hold with your bank. If you’ve been charged a fee for something you haven’t received, it could also be a sign that there has been account fraud.
  2. You’ve been charged a fee that’s too much due to an incorrect calculation. For example, if you’re charged a foreign transaction fee that’s calculated as a percentage of the amount you spent and the amount that you’ve been charged is higher than it should be.
  3. The fee has been charged when it shouldn’t have been. For example, if you’ve met your bank’s criteria to have an account fee waived (such as maintaining a minimum account balance or minimum deposit amount), but were still charged an account maintenance fee.
  4. The fee charged is higher than the amount stated in the terms and conditions the bank gave you. For example, where your account maintenance fee is listed as $5 a month in the bank’s terms, but the amount on your statement is higher.
  5. The fee charged was not disclosed to you when you opened your account. For example, where the bank introduces a fee after you have taken out an account and the bank has not contacted you to notify you that new fees are being introduced or changed.
Just a bit more

Most major Australian banks have signed up to the Banking Code of Practice, a set of enforceable standards that banks must follow. The Code requires banks to tell customers about:

  • any fees and how often they are charged; and 
  • how the bank will notify you of any changes to their fees.

The Code also requires banks to give some customers information about low or no fee accounts, including Indigenous customers and people with a low income.

What can you do?

Check your bank fees regularly

Bank fees can add up. One survey from 2020 found that Australians pay on average $876 annually on bank fees. So it’s important to make sure you’re not paying for bank fees you can avoid. Here are some tips for spotting bad bank fees:

  • Review your account statement each month and check the fees that you’ve been charged for anything that looks unusual, like if you’ve been charged a foreign transaction fee but you haven’t been overseas recently. These fees may be a bank error, but they may also be a sign that someone has fraudulently accessed your account.
  • Check any recurring fees that you pay that may be charged monthly or annually, such as account maintenance fees. Make sure that these fees line up with what’s set out in the terms and conditions for your account.

If you think the fees you’ve been charged are incorrect, you can make a complaint to your bank. Make sure you cover these points in your complaint: 

  1. What are the fees or charges that you think are wrong? You may want to include a copy of your bank statement with the fees highlighted so it’s clear what the problem is.
  2. Why do you think the charges are incorrect? For example, are the fee amounts higher than what is set out in the bank’s terms and conditions?
  3. How often has it happened? Remember, if there’s a problem with your bank fees, it might have been going on for a while.

For more information on how to set out your complaint to your bank, check out our article here. Or if you need more help, try using Ajust for your bank fee complaint. Ajust is free to use and can help you make a complaint to any Australian bank. Just let us know what the problem is with your bank fees and we’ll take it from there.


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