The French bank Crédit Agricole has introduced a €5 charge for withdrawals made with UK-issued credit and debit cards.
In addition, the bank recently started to imposed a new €18 flat fee on any bank transfers coming from Britain.
More European banks are expected to introduce similar fees, according to various European media, including magazine The Connexion.
Since the UK has left the European Union, the SEPA rule that EU-wide charges can not be higher than costs for domestic transfers no longer applies to Britain.
Despite the UK having retained the ability to use the SEPA infrastructure, the cost cap no longer applies and thus are EU-based institutions entitled to start charging fees for transfers to and from the UK, as well as ATM withdrawals across the EU from UK-issued or registered bank cards.
ATM cash withdrawals
The UK’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, did warn in the past that cash withdrawals across the EU “may become more expensive” after Brexit.
“We expect firms to let you know about any changes in charges that affect products you have,” the regulator said.
UK banks normally do charge non-Pound sterling transaction fees for customers making purchases or withdrawing money abroad, but these were in place before Brexit took effect.
The additional cash machine fees come as Crédit Agricole customers in France reportedly noticed flat fees are being added to money transfers coming from the UK.
The change has the potential to impact millions of Brits: not only visitors in Europe who have no EU bank account, such as tourists and business travellers, but also second home owners and British residents residing in France or elsewhere in Europe.
Deborah Elliot, who owns a second home in Indre-et-Loire and has a Crédit Agricole account for paying its bills, was charged for withdrawing money from her local Crédit Agricole Touraine Poitou branch using her UK card.
“We bank with Santander in the UK, which doesn’t have any fees for withdrawing euros on our UK debit cards,” she told magazine The Connexxion.
“So we often top up our French bank account by taking out cash with the UK card over a few days and then paying it into the French account, as this avoids our UK bank’s flat fee of £25 per international transfer.”
The European Consumer Centre, a lobby and consumer group focused on cross-border payments in Europe, does not think banks are allowed to charge these newly introduced fees.
Bianca Shulz, the group’s director for France, is convinced that “even though the UK has left the EU, it remains a SEPA member; the rules have therefore not changed with regard to SEPA transfers.”
A spokesperson for Crédit Agricole, however, hit back by reportedly saying that: “I can confirm that the commission is different if the country operating the payment is or is not part of the European Economic Area, whether they belong to SEPA or not.”
€7 visa fee for EU entry
The additional bank charges come after City A.M. reported earlier this year that Brits will have to start paying €7 per person and pre-register their details in order to enter the European Union from this year.
Access to all Schengen EU countries will come at a cost from later this year, as a spokesperson for the European Commission in Brussels confirmed in January that all British travellers will have to pay a €7 visa fee.
The so-called European Travel and Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS) enables citizens of 61 non-EU countries to visit the EU Schengen area with travel pre-authorisation, rather than a full visa.
The European Commission confirmed that, from late 2022, the UK will be part of ETIAS, meaning that Brits will have to pre-register their details before any trip, as well as pay the €7 levy.
Once the pre-authorisation has been approved, British passport holders will be allowed to stay in Europe up to 90 days.
The European Commission confirmed the payment and pre-registration will apply for any trips to all Schengen area states, plus the non-Schengen micro-states of Andorra and Monaco.
This means the ETIAS requirements will be in place for any trip to Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, San Marino, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Malta, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland Vatican City.