Consumer advice with Gráinne McGuinness.
As digital alternatives to a traditional current account become more popular and the big name banks in Ireland annoy many with their fees and charges, one very familiar sign on the Irish high street is now offering more and more products to suit many Irish consumer needs.
I have written before about An Post’s current account. One of its benefits is the straightforward fee structure.
Customers pay a monthly maintenance fee of €5 for their account which covers all electronic payments in the eurozone, except for ATM withdrawals. Your monthly fee includes contactless payments, direct debits, mini statements, one cash withdrawal per week at a post office and more.
While there are additional charges for other ATM withdrawals or cheque and other lodgements, this is a fee structure that would keep costs down for many consumers.
An Post also points out that their cashback incentive with a number of retailers, including Lidl, offer customers the chance to offset the fees. The accounts keep a running total of how much is spent with participating retailers throughout the month and the customer gets a MoneyBack payment the following month.
But An Post know they need to offer a full suite of products to provide a real banking alternative for customers, something Debbie Byrne, Managing Director of An Post Retail highlighted recently when launching a new loan product.
‘’We have shown through the success of An Post Money and our current account, Foreign Exchange and credit card services that we can be a real presence in every community and offer real value for customers,” she said.
Joining those products is the new loan, which has the lowest interest rate in the country for loans over €20,000. Up until May 3, an APR of 5.9% is available for loans of €20,000-€75,000.
This rate compares very favourably with others on the market. The rate is fixed, offering customers the security of knowing repayments will not change over the lifetime of the loan.
An Post said the new offering is tailored for customers who want to make some home improvements, are in the market for a new car or wish to pay off their existing debt with a single loan.
It launched the loan with a full digital application and drawdown process which allows customers to receive funds directly into their account within 24 hours of approval. Details are available at www.AnPost.com/money or at your local post office.
Another product worth mentioning is An Post’s credit card.
The interest rate is not a big draw, at 22.9% it is very much at the higher end of what’s available on the Irish market. But An Post are offering 0% interest on balance transfers for a full 12 months to customers who switch to them, the longest interest free period on offer in Ireland.
I have written before about how useful a switch with a low or no interest rate can be for someone whose credit card limit has become higher than they would like. It offers some breathing room to gradually clear the balance over a period of months, without interest making the consumer feel they are swimming against the tide trying to get on top of it.
One caveat, this is only beneficial for the customer if in the meantime they get their credit card spending under control. Ideal credit card operation means clearing the balance in full at the end of each month, if that is not possible then the 22.9% interest rate will soon start to bite.
If you are a fan of foreign travel, An Post also offer 0% commission on foreign currency and the An Post Money Currency Card - a prepaid Mastercard that allows you to purchase and top up 16 currencies (including Euro) on a single card.
All in all, while the products won’t suit everyone's needs, there are plenty of reasons to include An Post when you are shopping around for day-to-day financial products.
If flowers are your gift of choice on Mother’s Day, Aldi have a range to suit every budget in store on Thursday. Small children can purchase the Mother’s Day Pocket Money Present — Kalanchoe in ceramic – for €2.49.
There is also a Mother’s Day Pot in Gift Bag for €3.99 and a collection of pretty posies containing Santinis, Spring Irises, Carnations, Spray Roses and more, for less than €5.
At the top end of their range is the Specially Selected Exquisite Collection Mother’s Day Showstopper €39.99, which Aldi describes as the ultimate arrangement of beautiful premium stems and foliage, wrapped in gold sheets and presented in an exquisite floral box.
In between the two ends of the scale, there are bouquets priced from €9.99, with a selection of classic roses and oriental lilies for €29.99. There are also a host of potted options at reasonable prices, all in store from Thursday March 19.