Not long ago I wrote about how RBS and Lloyds are punishing basic account holders by restricting access to free cash machines. Now they’re being called upon to explain why, but will their excuses be good enough?
RBS is about to cut off access for its 1.1 million basic bank account holders to non-RBS/Natwest cash machines.
Lloyds TSB already restricts its 500,000 basic bank account holders from using machines which aren’t its own. It doesn’t even let them use Halifax machines, even though it’s part of Lloyds banking group.
Everyday lives affected
Your comments echoed our own thoughts – this is hitting those who can afford it least, the hardest. Liz explained how her local area will suffer:
‘The restriction on cash machines is made worse by the fact that the more deprived the area, the less likely it is to have multiple cash machines to choose from or the more likely it is to have ones which charge for use.’
And Maureen’s family will be directly affected:
‘My daughter has a basic Natwest A/C, but doesn’t live near any Natwest/RBS cash machines. So she will have to use petrol she can ill afford to drive to one of their machines.’
It seems that Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee agrees – he has written to RBS and Lloyds TSB asking them to explain the restrictions, saying:
‘This change threatens to increase financial exclusion as it leaves basic bank account holders at the two banks unable to access the majority of cash machines in the UK. This could signal the end of universal access to cash machines for all customers – which would stifle competition and be bad for consumers.’
It’s good news that the Committee is taking an interest in this subject and hopefully this will lead to a formal inquiry. It would be disastrous if some people are put off using their account because of these changes, increasing their daily expenditure at a time when other costs are rocketing.
No other option than to upgrade?
Changes like this could undermine the viability of the free cash machine network – which would affect all of us. Even worse, it seems as though RBS is making it easy for basic bank account holders to upgrade to an £8 a month account, while not offering the ability to easily upgrade online to a normal current account.
Was this always a ploy to try and sell more packaged accounts by stealth? Consumers changing to a different account with RBS are also placing themselves at risk of paying RBS’s high unauthorised overdraft charges – which can accumulate quickly at £6 per day.
RBS and Lloyds need to change their policy and offer full access for their basic bank account holders. How are these changes affecting you? We’ll be sending your responses to the Treasury Committee, so let us know below.