/ Money

Is your bank account right for you?

Blue piggy bank opportunity

Have you ever asked yourself if you’re with the right bank? Our research shows you could be losing thousands of pounds in fees and charges, yet many can’t easily compare accounts to switch.

We’ve done some digging and looked at charges for overdrafts, using your card overseas and how much you could be losing out on in terms of interest by having a high balance for 21 current account providers.. In our worst case scenario, when using an unauthorised overdraft, we found you could lose out on £183 in fees and charges each month by having the most expensive account instead of the cheapest.

With the cost of living top of the agenda, ahead of the Autumn Statement we are calling on the Chancellor to step in and use powers he already has to force banks to release data to customers about how they use their accounts. This data could be used to develop comparison tools that would allow people to rank providers by cost based on their needs.

Data drives choice

Banks already have this data and are using it to design products and services for their benefit. But they don’t all share it with their customers in the same way. So we’re calling for banks to make this information easily accessible (and usable) in a format consistent across all providers. That way, you can see which bank account is best for you and avoid hefty fees.

Our research lays bare the huge difference in fees and charges between current accounts. With many households relying on their overdrafts to cope with the rising cost of living, we’re calling on the Chancellor to force banks to release information so consumers can make sense of the way they use their account and choose the one that is best for them.

Compare the cost current accounts

Unless banks make it simple for people to compare the cost of running a current account, the new switching guarantee alone will fail to transform switching rates or significantly increase competition in banking.

As trust in the banks is at rock bottom, putting consumers back in control should help to restore this lost confidence. It may also help to increase competition in the current account market, forcing banks to compete on cost and quality of services.

John Hulett says:
29 November 2013

I know that Santander doesn’t do well in many Which surveys of satisfaction and I had horrendous problems when I switched to them a few years ago. However once these were sorted I have been very pleased with my ‘Zero’ current account. This allows me full internet banking, It is a no charge account and offers me free use of my debit card when abroad which is a worthwhile bonus. I think it’s only available to those holding mortgages with Santander (formerly Abbey National) but there must be a few million of those.
Does anyone else know of a freely available current account that offers these services?

My First Direct current account and their Regular Saver account fit me like a Savile Row suit. I use their Telephone and Internet banking and have found both to be excellent for my needs. If you telephone, you get to speak to a person within a few rings and that person deals with your request. This is the type of system other companies would do well to follow.

My Direct Line – suits me fine – If it did not – I’d change bank immediately – just as I did when I found the Midland Bank was secretive and unsatisfactory

Jack Jones says:
3 December 2013

How many people these days actually pay “thousands of pounds” in fees and charges? Is that per year, every few years, or over your lifetime? How many people would be stupid enough to have an account that charged them £187 a month in charges EVERY month because they went massively overdrawn EVERY month? You’d have to be a pretty big numpty to stay with any account that did that, and I bet there aren’t many people who have done so (or who actually fit the profile that your research used).

And what information is the Treasury going to “force” banks to release – all the account information is already there, it’s just that some people are too stupid or too lazy to bother reading and understanding it, and too feckless to abide by the terms of their accounts.

These days most accounts don’t charge if you stay in credit, so the solution is simple – STAY IN CREDIT!

Alison says:
3 December 2013

I wanted to share my experiences of Santander Bank – which are very positive.

They offer a good range of accounts – the 123 current account and credit card are especially good in terms of interest and cashback.

I think their customer service is excellent. Staff at our local branch (West Wickham) could not be more helpful and friendly – we quite enjoy popping in there (and when can anyone say that about their bank?!).

I did have cause to complain a few months ago after using the telephone banking service to transfer money to a Canadian Bank account. I wanted the transfer made in Canadian Dollars but it was made in GB Pounds. Initially getting it sorted was a bit frustrating but ultimately the matter was dealt with very fairly by the bank – they made sure that I didn’t lose money due to exchange rate fluctuations and bank charges and even paid me compensation for the time I spend sorting it out (ie phone calls to the bank etc.) without me having to ask.

I would urge anyone thinking of switching their bank to consider Santander.

Melville Jones says:
7 December 2013

Santander at branch level are very good, with helpful branch staff. However, if you move to France, as we did, they become a near useless bank. Outside of the branch network, they are arrogant, useless and amazingly incompetent. I have had nothing but problems with them over the last three months. I complained about the appalling level of service, and Santander put £50 damages into my wife’s account, when my complaint had been about MY account.
If you want banking, as it used to be, face to face and personal, move to live in South west France, and bank with Banque Tarneaud. Old fashioned banking, with one person in the bank to manage your account with you.
It is like banking used to be in Britain, before accountants started telling bankers how to run a bank!