How to close an account and stop fees mounting up

Can a bank insist that you visit a branch in order to close an account?

How to close an account and stop fees mounting up

Can a bank insist that you visit a branch in order to close an account? Noel Whittaker offers a course of action.

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Q. Bernie

My husband has gone into care and is still paying bank fees on a card he no longer needs. I have tried to close the account, but the banks refuses to do so unless I visit a branch. I, too, am nearly eligible for care. I tried to do this when the card had nothing owing, but ongoing fees will accumulate. I think people should be made aware of this. This card has been on the go for about 50 years. I have no control as it was opened in those days when women could not have a car!

A. My advice is to phone the bank, tell them you are unable to visit the bank, and ask for a home visit. Also, point out that if they don't come to the party and cancel all the fees owing, you will take the matter to the complaints department of the bank or higher.

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To rent or buy? A tip from Noel
The good news is that despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, wise money managers can still do well. I have been analysing whether it is currently better to rent or buy. Previously, renting was always far cheaper than buying when mortgage repayments, annual maintenance and other outgoings were accounted for, but, for the first time, buying is looking to be no more expensive than renting.

Think about a house worth $500,000 and renting for $500 a week, or $26,000 a year. A person who borrowed the entire purchase price at 2.6 per cent would have payments of $2000 a month, or $24,000 a year. It’s virtually line ball. Of course, there are other considerations, such as the amount of deposit needed, and mortgage insurance, but I have no problem with a couple withdrawing a total of $40,000 from their superannuation if that would boost their deposit to at least 20 per cent of the purchase price. This could save $12,000 in mortgage insurance.

So, if you are seeking property, do your homework and find a bargain. But remember the key to success in real estate is to buy cheap and add value: follow the principle of getting “the worst house in the best street”.

The most important factor in your buying decision should be location – it’s worth paying more for a better location, even if the house needs work. And remember, stay away from apartments – you can’t add serious value to them.

Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance.

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