It really is worth spending some quality time reviewing your banking every year.
Laziness can cost you dearly. If you have a number of accounts it's easy to let things slide and end up earning mediocre interest or paying too much in fees.
My business bank, I discovered recently, was paying me less interest than the headline rate it advertised because I wasn't receiving the "bonus".
Instead of being a high-earning online saver account as I'd been told when I opened it, buried in the fine print was a small note that said: "Rate includes bonus interest of 0.60%p.a. if no withdrawals are made within the calendar month."
That meant I wasn't earning 3.5% as I'd believed, but 2.9% most months, which wasn't a good deal. The account was supposed to be a short term receptacle to hold money earmarked for provisional tax payments. The reality was there was more money in the account than I'd anticipated and I wasn't earning the rate of interest I should have been.
Ignoring the fact the bank had managed to sneak this past my super-vigilant eyes, these bonus saver accounts are often poor value. The same can be said for prize draw accounts.
Invariably the rates on these products are either lower than more straightforward online savings accounts, or the saver's behaviour means they miss out on the bonus. Canstar's latest Deposit Account Star Ratings report warns of some of the fish-hooks to be found buried in these bonus and prize saver accounts.
It really is worth spending some quality time reviewing your banking every year. Banks reduce rates, let their products slip in the competitiveness stakes, or quietly modify the rules. What's more, like me, your savings behaviour can change, requiring a different type of account.
I realised that much of that money from the business online savings account could be locked up in a term deposit. A six month RaboDirect term deposit pays 5.2% p.a., which makes 2.9% from my sneaky business bank look pretty poor indeed.
If you're a spender not a saver and you're inclined, ever, to use the overdraft facility, or accidentally overdraw your account, then the interest rates and penalties on accounts should be of huge significance to you. If you can't change your behaviour, then it's best to shop around and ensure you're getting the best combination of interest rates and fees on your day-to-day accounts.
If you're not sure what style of account is best for you, ask your bank to summarise your banking and spending habits, then use the information you're given to shop around.
I found thanks to a simple call to my bank that if I ditched my chequebook, and started paying bills online I could reduce monthly fees to zero. Having your mortgage with the same bank as your current account often has this same effect as well.