These banks charge the highest extra fees for international streaming and gaming subscriptions

Among South Africa’s major banks, Standard Bank charges the highest extra payment processing fees on subscriptions to popular international streaming, cloud, and gaming services.

Banks levying conversion fees from customer payments is standard practice when a transaction is paid in a currency other than the Rand.

Capitec is the only major South African bank that charges one of four fixed fees for different transaction brackets.

In most cases, the precise fee is based on a bank-determined percentage of the transaction value, ranging from 1—2.75%.

Absa, Bank Zero, and Nedbank customers benefit from the fact that their banks don’t charge a fee for international payments if the subscription is levied in Rand.

Discovery Bank, FNB, Standard Bank, and TymeBank customers pay an extra fee for all foreign-based services, regardless of whether these payments are in Rand or another currency.

When FNB switched from only charging for foreign currency payments in 2022, it explained that banks incurred international transaction processing costs on locally priced payments to many foreign-based services.

“Even though these transactions are denominated in rands, they still involve international companies, and the bank incurs international transaction processing costs,” FNB said. 

FNB could previously absorb losses from these costs, but the increase in international payments — with subscription-based services and e-commerce being major drivers — has made this practice unsustainable.

The table below compares the extra international payment fees South Africa’s biggest banks levy on payments to foreign-based subscription services.

Extra fees for payments to international services/foreign currency conversion
Bank International payment fee Fee on Netflix Premium subscription (R199 per month)
Absa No charge for rand-based transactions (2.75% currency conversion only) R0.00
Nedbank No charge for rand-based transactions (2.00% currency conversion only) R0.00
Bank Zero No charge for rand-based transactions (1.00% currency conversion only) R0.00
Capitec R0–R100: R2
R101–R200: R3
R201–R500: R5
R501 or more: R10
Discovery Bank 2.0% of transaction value R3.98
FNB 2.0% of transaction value R3.98
TymeBank 2.0% of transaction value R3.98
Standard Bank 2.75% of transaction value R5.47

As shown in the table above, Standard Bank is the most expensive of the banks that charge a percentage-based fee.

While the individual fees might not seem like much, they can add up over time, especially when customers use multiple services.

There are numerous popular platforms that are subject to these fees, including:

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Apple Music
  • Apple TV+
  • Britbox
  • Disney+
  • Google Cloud
  • Microsoft 365
  • Microsoft Game Pass
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Netflix
  • PlayStation Plus
  • Spotify
  • YouTube Premium

The table below shows how much a Standard Bank customer will pay in extra fees every month and over a year when using several popular subscription services.

Example of Standard Bank customer’s international payment fees over a year
International service/platform Monthly subscription price Monthly international payment fees Annual international payment fees
Amazon Prime Video (video streaming) R79.00 R2.17 R26.04
Disney+ Premium (video streaming) R139.99 R3.85 R46.20
Netflix Premium (video streaming) R199.00 R5.47 R65.64
Spotify Premium (music streaming) R64.99 R1.79 R21.48
Uber One (on-demand food delivery and e-hailing) R50.00 R1.37 R16.44
Microsoft 365 Personal (cloud storage and Office software) R109.00 R3.00 R36.00
Microsoft Game Pass Ultimate (game streaming service) R129.00 R3.55 R42.60
Tapo Basic 5 devices (smart camera cloud storage) R179.99 R4.95 R59.40
Total R26.15 R313.80

When using the collection of services above, the only bank that charges fixed fees based on certain brackets of spending value — Capitec — will also be more affordable.

However, Capitec’s R2 for transactions with values between R0–R100 is particularly expensive for those who primarily make international payments in this bracket.

For example, the R2 charge in Capitec’s international payments works out to 4.1% of the Netflix Mobile subscription of R49.

Standard Bank’s fee on that same subscription will work out to R1.35, 32.5% cheaper than Capitec.

The R2 fee would also make up 6.9% of the R29 subscription of the Microsoft Basic account.

Capitec’s fee could theoretically go as high as 200% of the transaction’s value, but only if that transaction’s value was the minimum of R0.01.

The table below illustrates how Capitec’s international payment fee can either be more or less expensive than Standard Bank for cheaper subscriptions, depending on the value of the transaction.

Capitec vs Standard Bank for low-value subscriptions
International service/platform Monthly subscription price Capitec fee Standard Bank fee (0.0275%)
Microsoft Basic R29.00 R2.00 R0.25
Google One Basic R34.99 R0.96
Netflix Mobile R49.00 R1.35
Spotify Premium R64.99 R1.79
Amazon Prime Video R79.00 R2.17
PC Game Pass R85.00 R2.34
Showmax R89.00 R2.45
BritBox R99.99 R2.75

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These banks charge the highest extra fees for international streaming and gaming subscriptions