ECONOMY

Greek banks trim their rates

A day after central banks from the major industrial countries cut their benchmark interest rates in a coordinated move to restore confidence among both investors and consumers, Greek banks yesterday slashed rates across the board, making mortgage loans even more accessible to consumers but bringing despair to those who saw the yield from their savings accounts dwindle to a miserly amount. Privately owned Alpha Bank took the lead as it announced a range of interest cuts, the most significant of which was a 100-basis point drop in mortgage loans to 3.9 percent from 4.9 percent for the first year. The bank shocked its competitors early this year when it pruned housing rates to below 5 percent. Savings rates came down by 75 basis points to 2 percent and for Alpha 100 Account by the same margin to 3.25 percent. The interest rate for capital and fixed installations eased to 6.5 percent, down by 75 basis points. The new rates come into effect on Monday. Commercial Bank also unveiled a uniform 50-basis point cut in a majority of the categories. This took loan, mortgage and consumer loans down to 6.5 percent, 5.5 percent and 9.5 percent respectively. Medium- to long-term loans will be offered at 6.5 percent from 7 percent and investment loans for the first three years at 6.5 percent to 6.75 percent, depending on the amount taken out. Rates for fixed interest mortgage loans for the first year were trimmed to 3.8 percent from 4.75 percent and for the first three years to 6.2 percent from 6.35 percent. Commercial Bank also trimmed rates for its charge card, Emporocarta Visa, and the Mastercard credit card to 15.25 percent from 15.5 percent after six months. Rates for savings accounts fell to 2.25 percent from 2.75 percent. The changes are effective from September 24. Not to be left out, the Bank of Attica also shaved its rates by 25 to 100 basis points, to come into effect on Monday. The minimum rate for long-term loans fell by 100 basis points to 7 percent while the minimum rate for working capital dropped to 9.25 percent from 9.5 percent. Savings accounts saw a 50-basis point cut to 2.5 percent. Rates will differ according to the amount saved. The bank also lowered rates for its credit cards, Attica Card Visa and Technocard Visa, by 50 basis points to 16.3 percent and 14.4 percent respectively.