Euro am Sonntag: Premium accounts: only seemingly expensive | News


Andreas Pilmes, Euro on Sunday

The word “premium” bodes well. Here, exclusive instead of standard tempting. However, since we all have some life experience, we know that the bonus is not free, but only at an additional cost. This is the case with premium cars or premium hotels. Usually the same goes for premium current accounts. But not necessarily: in some circumstances, a “better” account is even available for free.

What distinguishes a premium checking account from a standard product are the additional services: It often includes credit cards, and these in turn include various insurance policies and other bonus offers, e.g. car rental companies. Anyone who can afford such a product actually wants to save.

The only question is which offers are the best. The German Customer Institute (DKI) investigated this on behalf of € uro am Sonntag. Offers from all over the country were analyzed. The condition was, however, that the banks also offered a cheap standard account.

With a premium account, the customer expects added value. However, this is not easy to determine as the account models vary considerably in some cases. Therefore, DKI created a reference model account with some common conditions to ensure the comparability of the offers. However, not only the terms and conditions were examined, but also the offer and customer service (see How the assessment was performed).

So much for the theory, now for the practice. In the conditions test category, the first place was taken by Hypovereinsbank HVB Exclusive Account and Commerzbank Extra Premium, followed by BW Extend Gold BW Bank and VR-Premium Volksbank Dresden-Bautzen. The cheapest of the premium offers can be opened in C24 for 9.90 euros per month. However, most banks charge additional fees in addition to account maintenance fees, such as credit cards, withdrawals or deposits. At Hypovereinsbank, the opposite is true: the monthly account maintenance fee of EUR 14.90 can be reduced by 25, 50 or even 100 percent if the customer takes part in the free bonus program HVB valyou. 25 percent is available if you use at least two of the bank’s products – this is already the case with credit cards that include a premium account. If you buy online, you even save completely the first year fee

A few more details of the conditions that are worth paying attention to: The interest rate on the overdraft facility ranges from 4.88 percent at Volksbank Dresden-Bautzen to 10.90 percent at Deutsche Bank. Girocard is free for all offers, as are withdrawals at the institute cashier’s.

Paying with a credit card in the euro area is in all cases free of charge. In countries with a foreign currency, this is only the case for C24, otherwise the fees range from 1.00 to 1.75 percent of the amount. Foreign currency withdrawals are only free at HVB and Stadtsparkasse München.

Basically, there are no free credit cards in this or Targobank, but there are up to five at Hypovereinsbank. Commerzbank offers four, the remaining banks at least one. Which brings us to the offer test category. The Frankfurter Sparkasse credit card costs nothing in the first year only. But there is a gold or premium card – such as at BW Bank, Deutsche Bank, Hypovereinbank and Volksbank Dresden-Bautzen. You can get them at a discounted price from Postbank, but only standard cards are available from other providers.

Additional services

The most comprehensive additional services are offered by BW-Bank, Hypovereinsbank and Targobank. In BW, the account includes health and third party liability insurance, emergency cash service abroad and a cashback program for purchases, tours and tickets. HVB also offers extensive insurance and cashback programs, and Targobank also offers fully comprehensive car rental insurance and an ATM robbery insurance package. Overall, these three banks and Stadtsparkasse München performed best in this test category.

It is different with customer service: the leaders here are Volksbank Dresden-Bautzen, BW-Bank, C24 and Deutsche Bank. However, apart from the two “sufficient” ones, there were no major differences between the institutes. All websites were found by test clients on behalf of DKI to be transparent, understandable and structured. Except for the Stadtsparkasse München, all account models are compared there in tabular form. However, only two providers found the information about the terms exhaustive, only three information about the services and benefits of premium accounts.

When it comes to direct contact via the hotline, Commerzbank came out best, whose employees were considered the friendliest, helpful and also the most competent. The fastest responses via email came from C24.

Serial winner

The bottom line is that the winner of previous years, the exclusive HVB account from Hypovereinsbank offers the greatest added value compared to a standard checking account and has been the test winner for the fifth time. It offers the best terms, ranking third for offering and sixth for customer service. The monthly account maintenance fee of 14.90 euros can even be reduced to zero thanks to an internal bonus program if the customer uses at least five products from the bank (in including payroll account) and has assets of € 75,000.

The interest rate on overdraft facilities is one of the highest, but according to DKI testers, the interest rate on tolerated overdrafts is approximately average. The biggest advantage of the account is probably the HVB Mastercard Gold, which is compulsory in addition to the Visa debit card: thanks to it, cash can be withdrawn free of charge from any ATM around the world. Payment transactions are only subject to a fee outside the euro area of ​​1.75 percent of the amount in question. In addition, the credit card includes various ancillary services: In addition to insurance such as motion sickness, trip interruption or cancellation, emergency cash abroad, and various ticket and travel booking refunds.

For the Postbank Giro extra plus account, which performed the worst in relative terms, testers criticized the high fees – 10.90 euros per month plus 79 euros per year for a credit card, plus the costs of foreign payment transactions and foreign currency withdrawals. In turn, the interest rate on the overdraft was quite low. Relatively few additional services are available for a credit card. And the customer service at Postbank was not perfect either: only four out of ten calls were answered and the waiting time at the hotline was by far the longest. But as I said at the beginning: None of the premium current accounts performed really badly.

So it was scored

Test: The German customer institute DKI has examined the premium current account for EURuro am Sonntag for the fifth time. Offers from ten regional and national German banks were tested between February and April 2022. 250 individual criteria were taken into account. In addition, some 280 contacts were made by test customers who not only asked “perfectly normal” customer questions, but also checked the conditions stated in the ad and had an understanding of the service provided by the bank and its employees. The test was divided into three criteria: conditions, offer and customer service. In addition, the price-performance ratio was examined but not taken into account in the test result.

Conditions: They make up 40 percent of the test result. This concerned, inter alia, account maintenance fees, interest rates on overdrafts and tolerable overdrafts, minimum terms and conditions, annual Girocard and credit card fees, and fees for cash withdrawals, payment transactions, wire transfers and standing orders.

Offer: It also accounted for 40 percent of the test result. It was important here, inter alia, number of ATMs where bank customers can receive cash free of charge, security procedures (eg ChipTAN, mTAN, fotoTAN), giro and credit card functions, additional services (eg insurance or rebates) and online option -Legitimation.

Customer service: Makes 20 percent of the test result. The bank hotline has been tested here in terms of waiting time, competence, kindness and helpfulness. The same was true for e-mail contacts. In addition, information and services offered on the websites were assessed.

Image sources: Olleg / Shutterstock.com, Lisa S. / Shutterstock.com, Finanzen Verlag, Finanzen Verlag

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