New limits on bank commissions come into force today

Banks can no longer charge for photocopying documents, or changing account holders

New limits on bank commissions come into force today after a law was published that prevents banks from charging for photocopying documents or changing account holders in the event of death.

The law publishedin the government’s official gazette yesterday also limits the charging of commissions on changes in the ownership of current accounts in the event of divorce. In processes of accreditation of heirs by death of an account holder, banks may not charge a commission of more than 10% of the Social Support Index (IAS).

Banks may no longer charge any commission for photocopying documents from the institution which concern the client, issuing duplicates of bank statements or other documents. In the case of the deposit of coins, they may not charge commissions of more than 2% of the value of the operation.

When there is default, in the same month, on the payment of instalments of several credit agreements that are supported by the same guarantee, the banks may only charge the commission associated with the default that occurs first.

The law also requires that when there is cross-selling, that is, when other products or services are offered to the consumer as a way of reducing the credit agreement commissions (such as spread, the bank’s profit margin), the bank must provide “the consumer with information on the simulation of the instalment for each discount item between the base spread and the contracted spread, both at the time of initial contracting the credit and in the future at the consumer’s request”.

The law also states that in housing credit, a client who applies for a mortgage loan and who has already had a property valuation report for less than six months does not have to pay for a new valuation (they can present the same report or the bank can order a new valuation, but pays the costs).

Regarding the transitory regime that facilitates the renegotiation of credits, which is currently in force to cope with the increase in interest rates, the law changes so that banks cannot demand the purchase of services or associated products (insurance, credit cards or even material goods, such as a food basket) in the renegotiation.

While most of the law’s articles come into force today (the day after publication), this article comes into force 30 days after publication (ie, the end of June).

The law also says that limits on the duration of housing loans from the Bank of Portugal “may not limit or prevent the extension of the repayment period of the credit agreement concluded under this article”.

The early redemption of Retirement Savings Plans (PPR) up to a monthly limit of one Social Support Index (and in force until the end of this year) is now allowed to use this money “for the early repayment of the credit agreements referred to therein up to an annual limit of 12 IAS”.

This article also comes into force in 30 days (end of June).

The rules for the minimum banking services account have also been changed. The number of cost-free transfers made through ‘homebanking’ (access to the bank via the internet) or through own applications in minimum services accounts will be doubled from the current 24 to 48.

This article comes into force 90 days after publication (ie, at the end of August).

The law published today results from projects submitted by PS Socialists and PAN (People, Animals, Nature party) and was approved in parliament in April with votes in favour by most other parties (IL abstained).

Source: LUSA