When I moved back to New Zealand at the start of this year, I changed banks.

I did it for ethical reasons, or at least reasons of principle rather than beneficial interest rates or convenience.

From a consumer perspective, I figured all big banks are much the same.

But depending on whether I qualify for future mortgages and depending on the tenuous state of the broadcasting industry, my bank could profit by hundreds of thousands of dollars out of me within the space of my lifetime.


If it's all much of a muchness and I can bank online, I'd rather my money benefited the New Zealand economy than the economy over the ditch.

Until making the switch, I hadn't really sat down and considered the money banks make out of all of us, and the standard of service we receive in return.

Many Kiwis barely give it a second thought, but in choosing a bank we are often making the most significant transaction of our lives.

Of course, they are businesses and businesses have expenses. Between the tellers, management staff, investing teams and economists, property costs, technology, and security, it can't be cheap to run a big bank.

But the Australian owners of Westpac, ANZ, and BNZ all announced profits of $3-4 billion for the first half of the 2017 financial year. With that in mind, how on Earth can any of us still be charged a penalty fee for using ATMs?

As someone who barely uses cash, it still throws me into a rage. I checked my balance on another bank's machine? I withdrew $40? It takes nerve for these businesses to justify charging me for it.

It was telling that this week when the Commonwealth Bank of Australia became the first big Aussie bank to cancel its $2.50 other-bank penalty, its big Oz competitors followed within a few hours.

But the official line here is the arrangements between our big banks are far more complex. I'm confident they could work it out. Small gestures go a long way in the world of customer service.


And our banking bosses should know the one thing that surprised me in moving my savings and swapping to a new bank, was just how easy I found the process.

• Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB Saturdays, 9-noon.