Bank Yahav
Bank Yahav is consistently the cheapest Israeli bank in terms of transaction fees. Photo by David Bachar
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Bank fees for managing your checking account have inched down by NIS 1.43 in two years, from January 2011 to date, the Bank of Israel said on Tuesday.

Every year the Bank of Israel publishes a cost comparison of checking accounts at Israeli banks.

Yet again, Bank Yahav proved cheapest of all, by a significant margin. Yahav's average checking fees are NIS 2.82 per month compared to NIS 28.28 per month at Bank Poaley Agudat Yisrael, which charges the highest fees.

Among the five biggest banks, Bank Hapoalim is cheapest at NIS 13.60 per month and First International Bank of Israel is highest at NIS 17 per month.

The highest checking account fees were found at banks that mainly cater to Arabs and Haredim, namely Bank Poaley Agudat Yisrael, Mercantile Discount Bank, Arab Israel Bank. One of the reasons given for their higher costs is that these populations groups tend to use bank clerks rather than self-service for more transactions, resulting in higher costs to the banks.

The survey also found that average credit cardholder fees have increased from NIS 6.74 per month to NIS 6.89 per month.
The credit card companies explained that the change was mainly due to the lower amount of credit card fee discounts offered but no actual increase in listed fees has occurred.

A credit card company source said that the cancellation of reduced credit card rates was intended to counteract the effect of the reduction in vendor interchanges fees on the card companies' bottom lines following a court anti-trust ruling.

Isracard had the lowest average monthly cardholder fees at NIS 4.5 per month, followed by Leumi Card with NIS 7.02 per month and the card provider with the highest fees CAL, with NIS 9.87 per month.