CHOICE is challenging the big five banks to guarantee they will not pass on the $6.2 billion bank levy, and says if they won’t put customers first, Australians should find a better deal.

“The new bank levy of 0.06% a year only applies to the top five banks – the big four plus Macquarie Bank,” says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.

“If you are with one of the big five banks and they punish you by passing on the levy, your best option is to ditch them for one of the 135 other deposit taking institutions in Australia.

“The banking industry’s juvenile reaction to this levy speaks volumes about these very powerful and profitable companies that are completely out of touch. It also points to a genuine lack of competitive pressure in this highly concentrated market.

“From punishing mortgage holders with out of cycle rate hikes, to outrageously high credit card interest rates, to the financial advice and insurance scandals that have left consumers out of pocket, the banks have destroyed the public trust and confidence that they once enjoyed.

“We welcome the Federal Government’s decision to give bank customers ownership of their data. This will allow them to request the big banks forward their information to a smaller rival, so it is easier for a consumer to compare products and find one that offers the best value.

“One challenge for consumers looking to switch is making sure that you aren’t with a sub-brand or product still connected with a big bank. The big banks hide behind brands like Financial Wisdom, Bank of Melbourne and white-label home loans so you could be with a big institution and not even realise it,” Mr Kirkland says.

Media contact: Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669

Cheat sheet for consumers who want to cut ties with the big banks

The big banks have a range of sub brands and ownership interests that cover everything from credit cards to home loans to financial advice. If you really want to break ties the big banks, here are the main brands to avoid: