Below-Maintaining-Balance Penalty: Complaints, How to Dispute

Updated May 9, 2024

Below-maintaining-balance penalty is the most common banking concern that account owners write to us.

There have been account owners who have seen their savings reduced by 600 pesos or 900 pesos or 1,200 pesos for failing to see on time that their account balances have fallen below the required balance.

There’s even one OFW whose account balance was reduced by 4,500 pesos! That’s 300 pesos x 15 months of falling below the required balance. This OFW did not know that the bank account’s maintaining balance requirement has increased. Two other OFWs lost 1,800 pesos and 3,500 pesos to this kind of penalty.

What Are the Common Reasons Why Account Owners Suffer This Penalty?

  • They don’t know there’s such a thing as maintaining balance.
  • They know there’s a maintaining balance requirement but are not able to maintain the required balance.
  • They don’t know the required maintaining balance had been increased.
  • They don’t know how the minimum average daily balance is calculated.
  • They think the penalty is imposed only for one month.

Why Is There a Maintaining Balance Requirement?

Merong cost ang pag-maintain ng records of accounts sa systems ng bangko, like cost of payroll, computers, software, electric bills, etc. I-imagine mo kung karamihan ng accounts ay walang laman o konti ang laman. Ime-maintain pa ba nila?

Why won’t the banks shoulder this cost? Banks will say they are in business to make profits.

In the US, what they have is a monthly maintenance fee. Account owners pay a monthly fee to maintain their accounts. Common knowledge na hindi libre ang bank account, except yong mga nagpapa-promo. If they don’t like to pay this monthly fee, then they maintain a certain balance in their account. It’s the same cost concept.  Ang difference lang sa atin is parang lumaki tayo thinking na libre ang bank account. At saka more often than not, nakakalimutan ng mga new account officers na i-emphasize yong maintaining-balance requirement. Ina-assume nila na alam na ng new account owner.

Can You Ask for a Refund of the Penalty?

Yes, you can ask, but most often, the bank won’t refund. Hindi nila tatanggapin yong rason na hindi mo alam, o hindi mo alam na ganun ang pag-compute.

But I think there are cases when you must complain and ask for a refund.
One case is when you’re an OFW, and the bank suddenly increased its maintaining balance, and you were not informed, and you lost some thousand pesos.
There’s a banking regulation that you must be informed of any change that will impact you financially. Under “Fees on Retail Bank Products/Services” of Part 2 of the Manual of Regulations for Banks, there is this rule:
“Complementary individual notices to a client shall be sent if the amendments pertain to or will result to fees to be paid or charged on the account of the client.”

Submit your complaint to the bank and request for a refund. Keep copies of your communication with the bank. You need these documents in case you decide to submit a complaint to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
There are instructions here on how to ask help from the BSP. The BSP reiterates that you should talk first with your bank before going to them.

Ngayong marami nang nakakaalam na merong maintaining balance requirement, naging popular na ang mga:
No-Maintaining Balance Accounts
As people become familiar with maintaining-balance penalties, bank accounts like the following have become popular:

  • Kabayan peso and dollar savings account
  • Metrobank OFW peso and dollar savings account
  • BPInoy savings account
  • PNB OFW peso and dollar savings account
  • Landbank
  • Other banks’ OFW saving accounts
  • Some kiddie accounts
  • Some basic accounts

Here are Common Bank Account Products, Maintaining Balance Requirements and Below-Maintaining-Balance Penalty Amounts:

Bank Account ProductMaintaining Balance RequiredBelow-MaintainingBalance Penalty per Month
BDOKabayan Peso Savings0** 
BDOKabayan Dollar Savings0** 
BDOPeso Passbook Savings10,000300
BDOPeso ATM Savings2,000300
BDOPower Teens Club2,000300
BDOOptimum Peso Savings30,000300
BDOPrime Savers2,000300
BDODollar Savings$500$5
BPIExpress Teller Savings3,000300
BPIPassbook Savings10,000300
BPIJumpstart Savings1,000300
BPIExpress Dollar Savings$500$5
BPI DirectExpress Teller Savings500250
BPI DirectBPInoy Savings0**** 
MetrobankDebit/ATM Savings2,000300
MetrobankPassbook Savings10,000300
MetrobankDollar Savings$500$10
MetrobankFun Savers500300
MetrobankOFW Peso Savings0** 
MetrobankOFW Dollar Savings0** 
LandbankATM Peso Savings500200
LandbankRegular Passbook Savings10,000200
PNBSuperteller ATM Peso Savings3,000300
PNBDebit Mastercard3,000300
PNBPassbook Savings10,000350
  • NOTES:
  •  *  Penalty is charged on the last business day of the 2nd consecutive month your account fell below the required maintaining balance
  • **  To maintain your BDO Kabayan account, you need to send money from abroad to your account at least once in 24 months.
  •       After 24 months of no foreign remittance to your BDO Kabayan account, your account is converted into a regular ATM account, and you’ll need to comply with the maintaining-balance requirement. Ang required maintaining balance ng BDO ATM account is 2,000 pesos.  If you fail to maintain for 2 consecutive months, and your account balance is not enough to pay the 300-peso penalty, your account will automatically close.
  • *** BPI Easy Saver has no maintaining balance requirement, but you pay 5 pesos for every ATM withdrawal and ATM balance inquiry.  Itong BPI Easy Saver na naging BPI KAYA ay hindi na ino-offer effective April 20, 2020.  Pero yong mga meron na nito prior to April 20, 2020 ay continuous pa rin nilang ma-enjoy ang mga advantages nito.
  • ****BPInoy Savings Account has no maintaining balance requirement, but you need to send money to your account at least once every 3 months.

Can I Dispute a Below Maintaining Balance Penalty?

“Hi po, the below maintaining balance penalty, can this be disputed? Especially if you were not informed about it. Where do you see this information about the penalty? Is it on the application form? Thank you.”

Yes, you can dispute it.
But if you were penalized for just one month or two months (300 pesos or 600 pesos), I think it’s not worth your effort and time. Now that you’ve come to know about this penalty, just accept that there’s such a thing as below-maintaining-balance penalty, and banks are authorized to charge it, and remember it, and then fix your account.

How to fix your account?
Deposit more money into your account, and maintain the required minimum maintaining balance.

Or you can close your account (withdraw all that you can withdraw via the ATM, or you can withdraw up to the cents and few pesos over the counter), and open an account with a lower maintaining-balance requirement.

Why Is It Not Worth the Effort to Dispute?

The disputed amount is small. It’s not worth your time, your effort and your stress. Besides, the bank will always win.

The requirement to maintain the minimum monthly average daily balance (MADB) in your account is stated in your bank’s Terms & Conditions. You signed this document when you applied for your account.

 Here are excerpts from BPI and BDO’s Terms & Conditions (Other banks have similar Terms & Conditions):

Excerpts from BPI Terms & Conditions for all its products, services, facilities and channels:

8. Minimum Account Balance 

You shall maintain account balances at the agreed/required monthly average daily balance (ADB) computed as follows:
ADB = (Day 1 ending balance + Day 2 ending balance …+ day 30/31 ending balance) /
(No. of days in the month i.e. 30/31 days)

You acknowledge that you are at all times aware of the required minimum monthly ADB, the service charges, maintenance fees, dormancy fees and penalties applicable for various types of Accounts, products, services, facilities and channels, as the case may be, as well as any amendments, revisions or modification thereto, which fees, charges and penalties are available to you upon request or through various channels of the Bank or are published, displayed, advertised, posted in the ATM on-screen messages or such area near the Bank’s ATM or in conspicuous places within the Bank’s premises and/or posted in the Bank’s website, whichever is applicable, all of which are made integral parts hereof.

The Bank may impose and collect service charges and/or maintenance fees on Accounts, whether active or dormant, where the Account balances: (i) have fallen below the required minimum monthly ADB, for dormant accounts; and (ii) have fallen below for at least two (2) consecutive months, for active accounts. Any Account with zero balance, regardless of status, may automatically be closed by the Bank without notice.

Excerpts from BDO Terms and Conditions Governing Deposit Accounts

I. Opening of Accounts

The Depositor shall maintain the required Average Daily Balance (ADB) as the Depositor
may be notified by BDO from time to time. A service fee shall be charged if the account
falls below the required ADB.

VII. Service and Other Bank Charges

BDO is authorized to collect from the Depositor all applicable service charges, penalty
charge and other fees the account may incur. BDO reserves the right to impose new
service and maintenance charges and change existing charges from time to time within
the limits allowed by law or pertinent regulations.

BDO, without need of prior notice, is authorized to deduct all such charges and fees from
the account without incurring any liability therefor not limited to any loss, damage,

or expense arising from or in connection with the dishonor of checks, drafts, notes or
other instruments because of insuffi cient funds as a result thereof.

Another thing: The bank officer who assisted you in opening your account will always insist “I told you about it. We always inform our new account owners about maintaining balance requirement,” even if she/he forgot to warn you about below-maintaining-balance penalties.

This is the BSP regulation about maintaining-balance penalties:

Sec. X263.  Service and Maintenance Fees

Banks may impose and collect service charges and/or maintenance fees on savings and demand deposit accounts, whether active or dormant, that fall below the required minimum monthly average daily balance (ADB), subject to the following conditions:

a. the imposition of such charges or fees is clearly stated among the terms and conditions of the deposit;
b. the rate or amount of such charges or fees is properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit;
c. the deposit account balances have fallen below the required minimum monthly ADB for dormant accounts and for at least two (2) consecutive months for active accounts;
d. the required minimum monthly ADB of deposits are properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit

When Is It Worth It to Dispute a Below-Maintaining-Balance Penalty?
When the amount is in the thousands, and
when the penalties arose from a change in the minimum maintaining-balance amount, and
your address in your bank records is still your current address, and
you never received a notice declaring a change in the minimum maintaining-balance-amount.

BSP requires that you must be notified in case of changes in the minimum maintaining balance, so you can use this in your complaint.

What Is Maintaining Balance or Monthly Average Daily Balance (MADB) in Bank Accounts?

How to Compute Monthly Average Daily Balance

Banks Should Notify Every Depositor About Maintaining-Balance Increase

Ha? Closed na ang account ko at wala na yong pera ko? Malaki rin ang 9,000 pesos ah!

A number of OFWs have commented on our blogs expressing their shock upon finding out that their savings accounts had been closed and their money wiped out due to below-maintaining-balance penalties.

They did not know that the maintaining balance requirement for their type of account had increased. This has been specially true for OFWs who work abroad in areas far from commercial centers.

The BSP has specific regulations requiring banks to inform account owners about changes related to service charges and bank fees.

We’ve been enjoying free emails for decades now, so there’s no reason why banks can’t use emails to inform their account owners about changes in their policies that have direct impact on depositors.

Excerpts from the BSP Manual of Regulations for Banks (MORB)

X263.1   Amendments to terms and conditions for the imposition of service charges/fees.
Part II — Page 41

Any change in the terms and conditions for the imposition of service charges and/or maintenance fees, e.g., increase in the amount of such charges and fees or increase in the required minimum monthly average daily balance of deposits, shall take effect only after due notice to the depositor:

Provided, That information by regular mail, statement of account messages, electronic mail, courier delivery and/or other alternative modes of communication on the depositor’s last known address at least sixty (60) days prior to implementation shall be considered sufficient notice:

Provided, further, That failure of the depositor to manifest or register his objection to the new service charges and maintenance fees or any change in their terms and conditions in writing within thirty (30) days from receipt of written notice of amendment shall be deemed to constitute acceptance of such changes, for purposes of this Subsection.

Banks shall likewise post said information on their respective websites, Automated Teller Machine on-screen messages, and in conspicuous places within the bank premises and other places near the bank’s own Automated Teller Machine at least sixty (60) days prior to implementation.

Sec. X263.  Service and Maintenance Fees 
Page II — Pages 40 to 41

Banks may impose and collect service charges and/or maintenance fees on savings and demand deposit accounts, whether active or dormant, that fall below the required minimum monthly average daily balance (ADB), subject to the following conditions:

a. the imposition of such charges or fees is clearly stated among the terms and conditions of the deposit;
b. the rate or amount of such charges or fees is properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit;
c. the deposit account balances have fallen below the required minimum monthly ADB for dormant accounts and for at least two (2) consecutive months for active accounts;
d. the required minimum monthly ADB of deposits are properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit; and
e. in the case of charges and fees for dormant accounts or dormancy fee, the period of dormancy as prescribed under Subsec. X185.12 shall be properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit, and that the depositors shall be informed by registered mail with return card or Proof of Delivery (POD) service of the Philippine Postal Corporation and other mail couriers on his last known address at least sixty (60) days prior to the imposition of dormancy fee.

Said Proof of Delivery Receipt will be accomplished upon the addressee depositor’s receipt of the letter, with the postal personnel or courier required to obtain and safekeep a copy of the signed POD, for submission to the sender/bank.
The PhilPost system likewise employs a Delivery/Monitoring Report that tallies the number of mails with POD received, delivered and returned per client/bank, indicating the name of the letter carrier, his signature and date signed.
Said POD and Delivery/Monitoring Report may be system generated by the bank so as not to rely on the manual inscription of the required information by the PhilPost and/or other mail courier personnel.

Regardless of the forms adopted by the PhilPost and/or other mail couriers, the proper implementation of the POD service requires as a minimum, that the following information be stated clearly:
(1) name and address of the addressee/ depositor;
(2) actual date of delivery/receipt;
(3) name and address of sender/bank; and
(4) name of recipient and relationship to the addressee/depositor.

Banks which erroneously charged service or maintenance fees shall reverse or credit back the amount of such charges to the respective deposit accounts that meet the required monthly ADB, within three (3) months from 03 June 2011.

Depositors whose accounts were erroneously charged with these fees since 23 June 2005 but whose deposit accounts have since been closed shall likewise be given appropriate notices sent to their last known mailing address.

Notices on the proper interpretation of the regulations on the imposition of service charges and maintenance fees on deposit accounts shall likewise be posted in conspicuous places within the premises of all banks. (As amended by M-2011-030 dated 03 June 2011)

How to File a COMPLAINT

If you lost a fairly big amount, and you believe the bank violated the above regulations, you can do this:

1.  Write a letter of complaint to your bank. State your account name and account number, the amount that you lost, penalty cited, debit dates, and request it to be credited back to your account. State why you believe the penalties should not have been imposed on your account. Cite the exact regulation in the above MORB Section.

2.  Present your letter of complaint to your bank and have it received. Request to talk to the manager. Be calm and polite but be firm.

3.  If the bank does not help you with your concern, you can ask help from the  Financial Consumer Affairs Group (FCAG) of the BSP.

The FCAG says that you may send your written complaint through postal mail, email, fax or you may  go to the FCAG office at the BSP Complex along Mabini St. in Malate, Manila.

You can be helped better if you can give FCAG the following:

 – Complaint letter (types or legibly printed)
 – Telephone number/s where you can be reached during the day
 – Detail of the issues being raised
 – The resolution you are requesting
 – Duly received copy of the letter of complaint sent to the bank and the bank’s reply, if any
 – Copies of supporting letter or other documents that would substantiate or prove your claim

For more information about pursuing your complaint, go to the BSP Financial Consumer Affairs Group page.


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