May 22, 2015 9:32 am
Updated: May 23, 2016 2:09 pm

RBC drops plan to charge new fees after customers complain

RBC is dropping a proposed plan to charge customers a fee for making payments on loans, mortgages or credit cards held with the bank.

The Canadian Press
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Editor’s note: This story was published in May, 2015. For the latest Consumer and Money headlines, click here

Royal Bank of Canada is backing off some changes to account fees it planned to implement next month, saying the bank has “listened closely to client feedback” and decided against the move.

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The country’s largest bank had planned to start charging some customers as much as $5 for making a mortgage or loan payment. RBC doesn’t currently count payments on a loan or a mortgage held with the bank as a debit transaction, nor a payment toward an RBC credit card or contribution to an RBC investment account.

But the bank planned to, starting June 1, until customers complained.

“We had recently announced some changes, including making RBC loan and mortgage payments count toward monthly limits for free debit transactions,” the bank said on its website. “But we’ve heard and understood your concerns with the changes.”

‘Nickel and dimed’

RBC spokesperson Andrew Block said most of the bank’s clients hold accounts with unlimited debit transactions, suggesting the impact from the fees would be “modest.”

But under the proposed changes, many customers like Mary MacPherson faced higher banking costs each month. The retiree who has been an RBC customer for 45 years would have been charged $5 to pay her line of credit from her savings account, she said. A TFSA contribution would similarly be dinged with a new charge.

“With these fee changes, it’s not the amount, it’s the basic principle of RBC nickel and diming customers who may be too busy to notice or to do anything about it,” she said in email message.

Moving ahead

RBC appears to be moving ahead with other account changes, such as cutting back rebates for seniors. MacPherson said her chequing account rebate, which covers her monthly $10.95 account fee, is being cut to $5. Eligibility for rebates for older customers is also moving up from 60 to 65. (More can be found here.)

RBC and the country’s other big banks have all introduced account changes this spring that are lifting the cost of day-to-day banking for many customers, experts say. “Pretty much anyone who’s a banking customer is going to be impacted in some way,” said Penelope Graham, editor at ratesupermarket.ca, a site that tracks borrowing rates and fees charged by financial institutions.

MORE: Sick of bank fees, here’s some alternatives

“Some [banks] are rolling out higher fees for everyday banking, some are targeting special rebates for groups like seniors and students,” Graham said.

The changes have compelled some to seek out low- or no-fee alternatives to the banks, such as PC Financial, Tangerine or products offered by credit unions.

“As an option, I have just opened a Tangerine chequing account,” MacPherson said.

WATCH: It’s Canada’s biggest bank, with an estimated 18 million customers. Now RBC is planning to charge those customers quite a bit more. Sean O’Shea reports

jamie.sturgeon@globalnews.ca

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