South African banking withdrawal and ATM fees compared

Although over the years banks have moved toward a digital-first consumer strategy, cash is still king in South Africa, with cash transactions accounting for more than half of the total value of all consumer transactions in the country, according to a study by Mastercard.

Over the last five years, the  retail banks have claimed that they have become more competitive in the banking space – customers can now withdraw money at till points at South African retailers, and many transaction fees are scrapped when dealing with purely digital transactions.

However, one of the simplest ways to measure the competitiveness of the cash-handling side of the SA banking industry is by looking at how much they charge you to access your own money – withdrawal fees.

Below is a breakdown of costs to withdraw R500 from South Africa’s retail banks’ ‘main’ accounts (‘Gold’ equivalents) between 2012 and 2017. Many local banks structure their pricing based on consumer habits, with FNB previously noting that the most common withdrawal transaction was around R500, hence that amount is used.

It is worth noting that the various banks offer different accounts and bundles that cater for different needs, but for the purpose of this comparison, all charges are based on pay-as-you-transact fees, after bundle limits, on mid-tier (gold-equivalent) accounts over the years.

For a more detailed comparison of accounts, you can see our 2017 banking fee breakdown here.

Withdrawals at native ATMS

Between 2012 and 2017, the average cost to withdraw cash at a native ATM in South Africa has increased by 21.3% from R7.66 in 2012 to R9.29 in 2017.

Across all the banking groups, Standard Bank is the only one to have actually reduced its withdrawal fees over the last 5 years, with a number of forumla changes cutting the cost to access funds. In 2012, the bank charged R9.75 to withdraw R500 – the highest cost out of all the banks – reducing this by 7.7% to only R9.00 in 2017.

FNB, meanwhile, has shown the biggest increase in withdrawal fees, from charging R5.70 in 2012 (second only to Capitec), to R9.25 in 2017 – and increase of 62.3%.

Capitec has consistently had the lowest fees, with its 50% increase over the years coming off a low base.

Bank 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Capitec R4.00 R4.30 R4.60 R5.00 R5.50 R6.00
Standard Bank R9.75 R8.75 R9.00 R9.75 R10.00 R9.00
First National Bank R5.70 R6.30 R6.70 R10.45 R9.25 R9.25
Absa R9.35 R9.70 R10.20 R10.45 R10.45 R10.70
Nedbank R9.50 R9.75 R9.75 R9.90 R10.60 R11.50

Withdrawals at other bank ATMs

Between 2012 and 2017, the average cost to withdraw cash at another bank’s ATM has increased by 15.3% from R13.30 in 2012 to R15.33 in 2017.

The trends at other ATMs follows a similar pattern to those at native ATMs, with Standard Bank again the only bank to actually reduce fees, though again from the most expensive fees in 2012, to being competitively priced in 2017. Standard Bank ‘other bank’ fees were reduced by 4.6%, from R16.45 to R15.70.

Again, FNB saw the biggest increase, jumping from R12.20 in 2012 to R17.25 in 2017.

Bank 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Capitec R7.00 R7.00 R7.30 R8.00 R8.50 R8.50
Standard Bank R16.45 R15.45 R15.70 R16.45 R16.70 R15.70
Absa R15.35 R15.70 R16.20 R16.45 R16.45 R16.70
First National Bank R12.20 R12.80 R13.20 R16.95 R16.25 R17.25
Nedbank R15.50 R15.75 R15.75 R16.40 R17.60 R18.50

Standard Bank, Nedbank and Absa will be releasing their new fee structures for 2018 towards the end of the year. Capitec will announce fee changes in February 2018, and FNB will be the last to change its fee structures in July 2018.

Read: South Africa’s 2017 banking fees compared

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South African banking withdrawal and ATM fees compared