Banks are increasingly coming under pressure: Eight courts have already declared that processing fees for loans are inadmissible. The Federal Court of Justice will make a final decision next year. Consumer advocates cheer – but in terms of practice, the importance of fees is overestimated.
Processing fee for loans
“Customers demand their money back,” headlines Stiftung Warentest in its latest issue of Finanztest. The Higher Regional Courts in Frankfurt am Main, Hamm, Bamberg, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Zweibrcken and Karlsruhe have given plaintiffs right who have complained about the processing fee for loans. Generally, fees are between 1.0 and 3.5 percent of the net loan amount. The fee is charged to the credit account and bears interest at the borrowing rate. It is included in the effective interest rate.
The processing of a loan, the judges unanimously, is not a service to the customer, but is in the interest of the bank. After all, she was even interested in checking the customer’s ability to pay in advance. Stiftung Warentest calculates: In the last three years, banks in Germany have paid out loans worth 200 billion euros. A large part of it was connected with a fee. Therefore, according to the consumer advocates, the financial sector would be facing billions in new burdens.
Wolfgang Benedikt-Jansen, who represents the protection community for bank customers in court, sees borrowers in the law: “The case law is clear and downright bleak for the banks.”
If the fee is banned, the borrowing rate increases
The excitement is probably exaggerated. If a customer pays back his loan as planned, he will not incur any additional costs due to the processing fee. The fee is part of the price. Contracts with multiple price components are no exception, but the rule: they can be found in the mobile phone sector as well as in contracts around the energy supply and in many other areas of the daily life.
If the case-law concludes that charges should no longer be levied, banks will shift the targeted proceeds from credit agreements to other price components, ie the actual lending rate. The effective interest rate does not change as a result. Only the difference between the target and the effective interest due to the fee disappears.
The main advantage for borrowers when the fee is lost relates to loans that are canceled early and paid back. Then the fee will be like an increase in the effective interest rate, because it is not refundable. More competition is not to be expected, because the strict legal regulations anyway provide that only with the effective interest rate may be advertised. All the relevant comparison portals also work this way.
Not least because of this, banks have so far reacted rather calmly to the opinion of the case law. That could change: Banks could pay the fee z. For example, if they provide evidence that it benefits the customer. The benefit could be z. B. in a lower borrowing rate exist (because the fee partially replaced this). If a proportional reimbursement for an early repayment is then possible, the BGH could award the fee. Finally, the principle of contractual freedom applies. If a revised fee does not penalize borrowers, it would probably also be approved.
The most important thing is that if you do not want to pay a fee, you do not have to. There are enough banks that do without a processing fee. One of our banking partners z. For example, the fee has already been canceled completely in summer. Others have never asked for a fee.