The enquiry aimed to determine whether deposit customers have been benefitting to the full extent of the RBA cash rate increases.

The ACCC found "little evidence" of aggressive competition in the deposit markets, with banks instead relying on customers to not be proactive in searching for a better rate, with "strategic pricing" in place to make comparing products difficult.

The report pointed to products that include bonus or introductory rates to attract customers as an example.

These products tend to have a low standard variable interest rate, but a much higher rate available for customers who meet certain conditions, or a temporary higher introductory rate that expires after a few months.

In the first six months of 2023, 71% of all savings accounts with a conditional interest rate did not receive the bonus rate.

Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said the ACCC is making several recommendations that aim to keep customers better informed on how to make the most out of their savings.

"While high headline interest rates may seem attractive to customers, they can come attached with conditions that are hard for customers to meet and keep track of," she said.

"It is important for consumers to be supported by clearer communication and information from banks and comparison websites, so they can receive the full value out of the products they are using.

"We are recommending that banks alert their customers if they are about to lose entitlements to their bonus interest, for example by withdrawing too much or too often in a given month."

Another recommendation from the report was for the government to consider "bank account portability", making it simpler for Aussies to move their savings from one bank to another.

It found customers were often put off by switching accounts by the impediments to doing so, which mean banks don't need to keep rates competitive to retain customers.

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said improving bank account portability would not only make it easier to switch to a product with a higher rate, but encourage competition among banks to offer higher rates to attract customers.

How banks set savings account rates

The ACCC report found retail deposits account for an average of close to 30% of a bank's funding.

Attracting deposits is therefore very important, but the interest deposit customers receive is also a significant expense, which banks try to minimise.

The report noted that while the RBA cash rate target is an important consideration for deposit rates, banks also consider a variety of other factors like profitability, economic developments and regulatory requirements when setting rates.


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      Important Information and Comparison Rate Warning

      All products with a link to a product provider’s website have a commercial marketing relationship between us and these providers. These products may appear prominently and first within the search tables regardless of their attributes and may include products marked as promoted, featured or sponsored. The link to a product provider’s website will allow you to get more information or apply for the product. By de-selecting “Show online partners only” additional non-commercialised products may be displayed and re-sorted at the top of the table. For more information on how we’ve selected these “Sponsored”, “Featured” and “Promoted” products, the products we compare, how we make money, and other important information about our service, please click here. Rates correct as of March 4, 2024. View disclaimer.

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