German Bank: That'll be one cent per click, thanks!

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 15, 2016
Updated • Dec 15, 2016

If you happen to have a bank account at the German bank Sparkasse Soest, you may be paying for any click you make on the bank's online banking site.

What would you say if your bank asked you to pay 1 cent -- that is 0,01 Euro -- for any click you make on its online banking site regardless of what you do there actually?

This is what is happening in the German town of Soest, and for customers of the local Sparkasse. Not all customers are asked to pay, but those with an online account are.

Customers pay 3.50€ already per month for the online account, and on top of that 1 cent per click they make on the online banking site.

So, regardless of whether that click leads to transactions or just information, customers have to pay up for the privilege of accessing the bank's pages.


It gets even more interesting when you compare the price to the regular account pricing of the Sparkasse Soest. Regular customers -- that is those that don't have an account they can use online exclusively -- pay 5€ per month and are not charged per click when they use the online banking.

This means that customers who do pay may pay more than regular customers if they click more than 150 times in any given month.

The bank's argument for charging customers per click? Because of background processes that cost money.

German banks need to provide all customers with free access to their bank balance at any time. This is obviously not the case for the per-click online account. The Sparkasse offers online customers free access to local bank statement printers however.

Things may get even worse for online customers of the bank, as it plans to increase the cost per click by 100%. This would result in having to pay $0.02 per page opened on the online banking pages of the Sparkasse Soest. (via Soester Anzeiger)

Closing Words

I first thought this was a late, or early, April the 1st joke. It would have been a good one, but it is unfortunately reality.

While it is quite bothersome to switch to another bank, it would probably be the first thing that I'd do if my bank would start charging me for such nonsense.

Now You: What's your take on this? Have similar stories to share?

German Bank: That'll be one cent per click, thanks!
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German Bank: That'll be one cent per click, thanks!
If you happen to have a bank account at the German bank Sparkasse Soest, you may be paying for any click you make on the bank's online banking site.
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  1. Sander said on January 1, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    @Martin, please read (German)
    TL;DR; it isn’t true.

  2. Xircal said on December 16, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Banks seem to be thinking of more and more ingenious ways of relieving customers from their hard-earned cash albeit in relatively small amounts. Dutch ING bank has been encouraging its customers to install its own Android app and then to use your smartphone to pay for goods via NFC. Those that avail themselves of the opportunity to install it by December 20 will have €2,50 credited to their account. Sounds inviting doesn’t it?

    What they don’t tell you of course is that you’ll be charged 0,50 eurocent per month from that point onwards even if you don’t use it. Furthermore, uninstalling the app without first deactivating mobile banking will mean the charge continues unabated.

    Paying for goods using a debit card on the other hand is gratis whether or not the customer enables NFC.

  3. Coffemate said on December 16, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Complaining, complaining. Change banks, it’s easy in Germany. And to all these lemmings here who have nothing else to do than whine and squeal about everything: get a life. Hard to believe but it’s still out there.

  4. kalmly said on December 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    No thank you. I’d take my $ elsewhere.

    It seems to me that banks, like (my) government, are on a roll, finding new and more devious ways to add charges and fees for what amounts to nothing. I’ve used the same bank for many years, and always loved the way they do business. While the economy was good (a long time ago and fading from my memory), one of my free checking accounts paid me a nice little monthly interest rate. When things went bad, the interest rate dropped and is currently .01%. Very recently, the bank sent me a document several pages long that outlines their new system and all their new charges. There are various means to avoid some of them, but if I want to do so, I have to spend time online, checking on balances. Reading this article, I wonder how long before they start charging me for clicks and online time? Well, never mind, I am already pissed, and will be doing some rearranging of my finances.

  5. Mike J. said on December 16, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    I am a dinosaur–never ever do anything financial online. I will bus down to my totally free credit union & transfer some money this afternoon. A nice little two-minute trip, & I can stop by a couple stores, too.
    Only question is, will I need a jacket?

  6. Yeruzalem said on December 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Stupidity of that bank? Stupid thing? No, I think this is an unlimited greed. They never have enough. For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing; this is the fact. So, leave such bank!

  7. Clairvaux said on December 16, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Unfortunately, bad ideas travel fast. It’s the first time I hear of such a stupid move, but it may not be the last.

  8. Anderson Nascimento Nunes said on December 16, 2016 at 8:58 am

    That way they can adjust the price to control the traffic: if too many people are online, raise the price to incentive people to wait until later to connect.

    Also, no one is forcing anyone to sign up to that plan, so only sign up if you think it is worth it.

  9. Rick A. said on December 16, 2016 at 8:38 am

    To anybody that uses this bank and website, just create a folder on your bookmark bar, name it banking, and bookmark any page you use in that banking folder, that way you can get to where you need to quicker and without clicking around every time you need to visit that specific page.

  10. Earl said on December 16, 2016 at 12:22 am

    If they find the cost of doing business so burdensome, then maybe they should get out of the business.

    Do they still pay depositors their fair share of their money loaned out by the bank? (Oh? They never did that anyway? …well, there ya go)

  11. Ingrid K. said on December 15, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Online banking is a self-service business model. It has enabled financial institutions to save significantly in real estate (branches), and in clerical staff. The cost savings have been enormous. And now they plan to charge the customers who assisted them in reducing their costs?

    This kind of pettiness would infuriate me. If enough customers close their account and move to alternative banks, the dimwits at Sparkasse Soeste will either reconsider this policy, or watch their institution go bankrupt.

  12. pHROZEN gHOST said on December 15, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    What if your government decided that taxes were now obsolete? Instead, you will be charged a flat rate of 1 cent per breath.

    Sensors will be installed in all citizens tomorrow. Those who do anything physical will pay dearly.

    You think that is impossible?!?!?!? They said the same about a moon landing. Just sayin’ ….

    1. Valrobex said on December 15, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      @pHROZEN gHost,

      You just scared the living daylights out of me!

      I’ve been a little paranoid regarding Google, M$, & other’s telemetry but for some reason never connected the dots and applied them to 3G. (great god government)

      I probably won’t sleep for a week… :#(

  13. Hah! said on December 15, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    What an incompetent idea PR wise. There are so many ways to make more money when you have a captive* base of clients. How stupid has to be that decision maker to pick THAT ONE ?

    At least they were able to vaguely perceive the risk of such a measure since they limited it to one town and at a low cost. (Lower than they secretly hope to bring it shall it become accepted)

    Even if they have to withdraw they’ll still be able to increase prices elsewhere by a few cents, in less infuriating ways but it’ll be the same for the wallet. (Assuming you are not a click freak)

    Good news is that this could be blockable with uBlock Origin, depending on how it’s implemented.

    * You don’t change your bank like you would change your soda brand, and you can’t function properly in society without a bank account.

    1. Corky said on December 16, 2016 at 7:59 am

      It must be different where you live then Hah!, in the UK the government has done a lot to make changing banks fairly easy, at least easier than it used to be 30-40 years ago.

      1. Corky said on December 16, 2016 at 10:33 am

        @SameGuy, You’ll get no argument from me on the political front, The Investigatory Powers Act (aka: The Snoopers Charter) is the most egregious law to ever be passed in a so called western democracy, the UK is more like an authoritarian state these days and the snoopers charter is going to put everyone who uses the internet at risk, not just people living in the UK.

      2. SameGuy said on December 16, 2016 at 10:04 am

        Thank god I don’t live within England’s political reach. (Essentially the UK now)

        Not disrespecting the country and especially not the people whether as individuals or as a group, but the political agenda and the little opposition within England’s people, hell am I glad I’m not submitted to that. (To each their own woes I guess)

        You can change banks in other countries, it’s just a bother. New card, new account number, new IBAN, new checks, new, different fees you have to evaluate carefully when choosing a new bank because there’s no obvious price tag, it’s a mess of services and fees and whatever. Changing banks isn’t easy.

        And you can’t NOT have a bank. So yes, the bank account “market” is made of rather constrained clients.

  14. insanelyapple said on December 15, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I have no clue how a basic account with debit card and associated with it payments in Sparkasse looks like but that payment sounds like a utterly bullshit. There’s no other reason to do such thing beside the pure greed for someone else’s money. I sincerely hope they’ll get a hard lesson of losing customer by introduction of this “revolutionary” fee – and I hope no other bank will try to copy them.

    I have no story to compare – my bank recently introduced a new ATM fee that will be enabled from January – a 1,30PLN of each money withdraw operation from ATM below 100PLN.

  15. OldKraut said on December 15, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    It would be very funny if it wouln’t be so unbelievably sad. Too many companies in Grumpany and of course government talk and talk and talk about service. Unfortunately too many don’t have the slightest understanding of the term “service”.

    Just go to the Rathaus. No, that’ts not where the rats live. At least I don’t think so. Back to Rathaus and service hours. They usually close between 3 and 4pm, at noon is the holy “Mittagspause” followed by Teatime and after that individually preparation for Feierabend. In the afternoon this leaves about 26 minutes of service time for the tax paying citizens. Usually you will be treated as a suplicant if you don’t have a doctor title or connections to the Rathaus janitor. After you have finished your business, which means to come back tomorrow @ 9am, you will be happy to leave the Rathouse alive.

    Returning @9am to the Rathaus will give you a very fine idea of German breakfast and its big variety since all the service people in the Rathaus are having hot coffee, rolls and some even their morning beer. It also means you have to wait until they are finished with breakfast, the newest soccer results and of cours just for fun ripping some colleaguess apart.

    This leaves about more than sufficient 29 minutes to take care of their highly hated customers before the holy Mittagspause. Too make a long story short: be patient in Germany when you need service and be greatful if you can get it at the first time

    Still I am surprised a german bank pulling the click-trick. Maybe they don’t click too clean in the thinking department. Despite all this I miss good old G where you can still talk to people face to face and get things done. People may be rough and straight forward but I honestly prefer this over the slime and fakeness I have found especially in a here not mentioned country.

    I am sure the click-pay will go away after a few polite german customers will tell them to go to hell with their stupid idea or ther Dackel will bite them in the amusement center. There is a reason why Germans like sauerkraut. Because they are always sauer, these Krauts. Have a good one.

    1. mikef90000 said on December 16, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      @Jan, I’m an American and I love sauerkraut :-), nothing to do with my Austrian ancestry. Some of the better kraut is locally made.
      If there isn’t enough banking choice in Germany, perhaps some laws need to be changed to allow the equivalent of Credit Unions that we have here. Far fewer fees than greedy banks, usually locally run and much more customer service oriented.
      The comments about online services replacing brick-and-mortar branches to save money is exactly correct. However, many US banks have still maintained their expensive branch networks; this is very puzzling to this older guy that’s used ATMs for 30 years and rarely visits the inside of a financial institution.

    2. Jan said on December 16, 2016 at 9:57 am

      Please stop spreading stupid stereotypes about Germans. I have never eaten sauerkraut in my life until I came to Munich, Bavaria. Even the dog Dackel is not seen so often here.

      By the way a lot of my foreign colleagues likes sauerkraut. So it is not so bad after all.

      1. Heimen Stoffels said on December 17, 2016 at 10:55 am

        Aside from what Thomas said, please also read the sauerkraut part again. He said “Germans like sauerkraut”, he didn’t say “ALL Germans like sauerkraut”. There’s no denying that a lot of Germans like sauerkraut, just like a lot of Dutch people (although the number is decreasing ’cause a lot of younger Dutchies, including me, don’t like it).

      2. Thomas said on December 16, 2016 at 9:44 pm

        @Jan. For your information it is called Satire and apparently you did not understand it. No reason to get upset or you may accidentally fit exactly into the stereotype you are complaining about. By the way the posting itself is hilarious.

      3. OldKraut said on December 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm

        I am so sorry that you didn’t get it and I am not going to explain it to you either. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  16. Mark said on December 15, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Sorry but no way are their actual running costs €0.01 per click, probably more like €0.0001.

    1. John said on December 16, 2016 at 4:35 am

      yeah, probably even less… but that is just processing power and data transfers. But if you count in the costs of the IT department, Developers of the website etc etc….

  17. hmni said on December 15, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    how good are their interface, as in do they make you click a lot of stuff unnecessarily must be some law that people can sue with if their gui sucks?

  18. Valrobex said on December 15, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    I am stunned at the stupidity of that bank. Online banking saves the institution a lot of money in that they do not have to pay bank personnel to process the transactions. Once the software is in place, something the bank has to do anyway, (agreed, the software must be made usable online) then there is no longer any need for a human agent to be involved. AKA: lower processing costs, lower payroll costs, less buildings and utilities to maintain, etc
    If that occurred with my bank I’d join Corky in switching banks.

    1. Doc said on December 19, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      Actually, you still have to pay IT staff to maintain, test, and upgrade the site. There’s also the server costs, including replacing worn-out components, power, and cooling. Still, it should be far cheaper than paying a row of tellers (who still have to use a computer).

  19. Corky said on December 15, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    If my bank started charging just to use their services I’d change banks and tell them why I’m doing it, banks earn enough money as it is from using our money as collateral in their investments, also seeing as many governments used our money to bail out the banks in 08 because of their bad investments, something we’re still paying for almost a decade later, I’d say they owe us.

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