Belfius raises interest on savings accounts for the first time in more than six years

Belfius is the first major bank in Belgium to raise savings interest rate from 0.11 to 0.5 per cent. The bank refers to the new interest rate increase announced by the European Central Bank (ECB) today, Thursday afternoon. It has been since April 2016 that the bank raised interest rates. According to Belfius, the increase confirms that the interest rate rise is "of a structural nature".

Belfius will give 0.35 per cent base interest on the classic savings account from 2 January next year, instead of 0.01 per cent today. The fidelity premium goes from 0.10 to 0.15 per cent. Altogether, the new interest is therefore 0.5 per cent, compared to 0.11 per cent today - the legal minimum interest.

The bank is also launching a new savings account, the Belfius Fidelity savings account. The total interest is 0.8 per cent: 0.15 per cent base interest and 0.65 per cent fidelity premium. This is a savings account "for customers who want to save an amount in the longer term that would normally not be used within a year". The condition is that the money remains in the account for 12 months.

ECB moves to counter inflation 

This Thursday, 15 December, the ECB hiked its main interest rate by 0.5 percentage points, meaning a combined 2.5% percentage points since July. The increase - the fourth consecutive rise - was however smaller than the previous rate hike, but the ECB indicates more hikes will follow.

The key interest rate in the euro currency area had been frozen at a record low of 0 per cent for years, but rapidly rising consumer prices led the ECB to change its policy this summer. In November, inflation in the eurozone was at 10 per cent. In October, it peaked at 10.6 per cent - far above the general target of 2 per cent set by the ECB itself.

Higher interest rates are also a burden for the economy, for example, because loans to businesses and private individuals become more expensive.





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