/ Money

Banks – can you explain why you’re punishing basic bankers?

RBS machine

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.


Seems perfectly sensible to me. You get what you pay for. It amazes me that people do not appear to appreciate how much it costs banks to provide and maintain an ATM network.

A cashline machine may well cost money to run but the banks are very happy to have them outside supermarkets etc. The other way to look at it. They have shut so many branches, its the only way they can service their accounts that are in credit, paying crap interest and lending it out at a 500%* margin

Most people are lemmings. They will spend hours agonising over which colour wallpaper to buy and then hours again searching shops and the internet to save £0.05 a roll but they don’t give a thought to their banking arrangements which cost them hundreds and thousands of pounds.

JMKJ says:
14 October 2011

I too am appalled at what Nat West in planning to do. I chose to use the POCA (Post Office Card A/C) when pension books were withdrawn and I did a great deal of publicity with the local WI Federation to make sure that people were aware of the POCA. When, however the government in its wisdom withdrew so many facilities from the rural post offices and the decision was made to close down the “uneconomic” sub post offices I was left with a 7 mile return journey to get my pension. I then decided to open at STEP a/c with Nat West. I could then pick up my cash at the point closest to my weekly shop. If this change comes into effect then I will be forced to go via either Morrisons or Tesco. The basic a/c was introduced for those who relied on cash – and are mainly used by those with low incomes – this change is penalising the poor and is an sad reflection on the mentality of those with money who think nothing of losing a fiver – to them it is two skinny lattes possibly. To those on a basic pension it could be a couple of meals

I hope Which? will put pressure on Nat West and Lloyds to reconsider the decision.

Our local bank branches closed, and these were 5 miles away. Then the branches further afield closed. Getting hold of cash entails a car drive of over 10 miles as the nearest public transport is 5 miles away and only operates a very limited service. Our nearby post offices have all closed, (none within 8 miles away and they have limited opening times and services). When we get into town there is no parking in the daytime without paying to use a car park and often at nights and weekends the cash dispensers are empty, so if we are also to be restricted by which cash points we can use it seems like only the very rich rural dwellers will be able to afford to have access to their own cash needed as many places are not keen on cheques and charge for card use for smaller amounts. Perhaps the rest of us will just have to keep our money under the bed!!!!

Your local bank branches closed because they were uneconomic in the 21st century. The same is true of your post offices. If you want them to return you will need to pay a service charge which you see as too high. Live in the city and postage is 30p, live in the boonies and it is £2. Why not ? market economics as no-one forces you to live where you do.

When you do have a day out to the cashpoint, why not get enough out to last you for a while instead of only getting £10 or whatever.

Why is it always the fault of other people and never the end user ?

HadEnough says:
14 October 2011

Most ATM’s are in the banks themselves. How can this cost them a great deal of money? They don’t have to rent them out and they own the buildings. This is just another way to make money; the banks are the Ryan Air of the financial world. They would charge you to walk through the door if they could. First they sell accounts with worthless overpriced bolt-ons, then they have the cheek to charge us for those same accounts. Now they are hitting the most vunerable in our society. Will these people forgo bonuses; no. Are they poor, no. Their attitute is symtiomatic of the prevailing attitude of every senior manager and CEO in the country, over-charge for everything; squeeze your customers dry; and pocket as much money as you can. All their energies are focussed on how much money they can make for themselves. They don’t care about the companies they work in, (seeing them as money making machines for executives) and even less about their so called customers. The entire banking/business system in this country is immoral and rotten to the core. Keep up the good work Which, you are the voice of sanity and fairness in a corrupt world.

Perhaps you would prefer to live in the 16th century because you certainly don’t like this one.

Unbelievably, the pension you are going to rely on later in life requires that your banks make profits or you’ll be eating dog food come your 65th birthday.

Hey Andy

What simplistic views and tunnel vision people like you seem to have.

Living in your own little bubbles with no idea or thought about anything other than how you can increase your own finances and pay packet and live in your own cosy little world as cheaply as possible.

You roll the phrase market forces off so easilywhen what you really mean is I’m all right Jack, couldn’t care less about anyone else!

Get real. In the 21st century, where do you think your food comes from before it arrives at your local city Tesco. The parks in the city or an open space on the top of a high rise flat perhaps?

We live in the countryside as we are producers of the your food, our business is here so we have to live here, same as thousands of other people who are by no means rich, but earn their living in the countryside.

Rest assured, financially it already costs us dearly already to live here which we have to accept.

All big companies and people like you are only concerned about unit costs and hard cash and not the tremendous underlying value of the many things which are bound to cost more to run including those that cost more than they do in the city.

Why do people like you always want other individuals to bear the cost of you living cheaply in the city?

Will RBS and Lloyds customers still be able to get cashback at a supermarket checkout? I’ve seen no reference to this [perhaps it is next for the chop].
I remember when my employer negotiated to get all staff onto monthly pay by bank credit the exercise was accompanied by a sort of roadshow with all the local bank managers. They were very eager to provide basic current accounts, without charges, and offered various other little inducements. Now that almost everybody has their income paid directly into a bank, building society or post office account, they are starting to make life difficult for those same people who have now reached retirement age and need convenient access to their money.
I totally agree with KC’s latest post, by the way. Andy’s comments are not in the spirit of Which? membership in my personal opinion. Living in the countryside is already extremely expensive and inconvenient – the mileages involved in doing the simplest thing are quite incredible and you have to plan your routes and petrol purchases very carefully because there aren’t many filling stations. The least we can expect is for the banks to treat us fairly so long as we are still with them; new customers get preferential treatment, loyal customers get exploited.

Supermarket cashback will continue as it is a means for the supermarkets to reduce the amount of physical cash they have to pay into the banks each day. The more they pay in, the more the banks charge them. It all comes down to money!

Graham says:
17 October 2011

I’m afraid this may only be the start unless public reaction against this becomes vociferous. The greedy banks see abolishing free accounts and free cash point withdrawals as an incentive for us to pay for their accounts and thereby get these services included. I’m not with either of these sharks and if my bank decided to try this on, I’d switch to one that didn’t immediately along with a letter to their Head Office telling them why. If the majority of Lloyds and RBS account holders did the same, the idea would be dropped immediately. At the moment they’re “testing the waters” to see how much they can get away with. We need to show them that we’re not falling for their ruse or we’ll ALL be paying for something that was free.

As to these fee paying accounts, the ‘extras’ can be obtained at a much cheaper price by shopping around. Watchdog viewers will have seen examples of how poor the deal is on fee paying current accounts and the lengths the Banks will go to to sign you up. The public needs to know that these ‘perks’ are an underhand way of making everyone pay a fee for using a service that is, at present, free for most people.

Wake up people, you’re being conned, don’t let them get away with it!!!!

Joan Hoggan says:
17 October 2011

I’d recommend that people sign up with a bank like the Co-op, so that they can withdraw money form Post Offices.

I wonder why Kevin Gell thinks it is those who can least afford it, who should pay for ATMs?

Brian Sherrad says:
20 October 2011

Similar, but slightly different and still unnecessarily restrictive: in NatWest I cannot use my Nationwide debit card to transfer money to a relative’s NatWest account. I have to draw the cash and then pay it in. I presume this is because Nationwide is not one of the “big five” and they do not like the competition; that is anti-competitive and should be stopped.

AmJam66 says:
21 October 2011

All the RBS customers ( me included ) should just walk (eg. into the co-op).
I CHOOSE not to have a current account with all it’s scandalous trappings and sky-high bonuses for the minions that flog you a current account…and I sympathise with the less fortunate, the elderly and the young who will know be conned/forced/ blaclmailed ito lining the pockets of these filthy players…People REVOLT!!!!!

Your ignorance is outstanding. Retail banking minions as you call them don’t get anything like a decent salary and they certainly don’t get any huge bonus.

Now investment banking, which is where the real money is at, is another matter. We “Masters of the Universe” as we were once coined, do receive large bonuses but it is really just deferred salary. The same would be true of football players who instead of getting £200k a week, get £1k a week and then a £10m bonus at the end of the season. The banker bonus is really deferred to keep you loyal to the company and can be clawed back or paid in potentially worthless shares.

There was stupidity I agree but even within investment banking, the people getting bonuses in the hundreds of thousands are few and far between. Far more people earn that amount outside of banking.

If you bash all people who work in a bank because you just don’t know or understand what goes on in that business it is hardly fair is it ?

AmJam66 says:
21 October 2011

sorry for the typos- Im tired

When The Royal Bank of Scotland acted as they did, it was the final straw for many. But the ever-seeming attack on what we need as a Basic Bank Account is all to real. We can no longer rely on false promises given to successive Governments that they would/will continue. In fairness some banks continue to carry them as part of their stable, but the question is, for how long?

Once one bank wins the argument amidst the self-generated confusion of Ring Fencing by claiming we’re all to blame for their gambling with ‘your money’, you will find others falling into line. Despite current protestations to the otherwise.

To this end No More Excuses was founded. There must be provision for FREE Basic Bank Accounts throughout the UK combined with FREE access to ATM’s. These must exist for those in our society who can’t have a fee paying account, and more to the point, those who can’t afford to have one. Add to this the closure of branches and those of the Post Office, and the withdrawal of cheque guarantee cards. The need becomes apparent. The answer is to make Parliament bring in legislation. Promises previously given, no longer cut it.

Therefore, and to begin with, an e-petition has been set up http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/15120

To run alongside of the e-petition you can follow No More Excuses via The Campaign Page http://thenomoreexcuses.blogspot.com

In addition to this there is an active Twitter site @NoMoreExcuses_ http://twitter.com/NoMoreExcuses_

We already have an impressive list of followers which includes Which Money and Which Conversation. It’s Your Money.

Thanks to Dr Martyn Saville for urging us to post our comment.

“STATUTE BARRED DEBT COLLECTION” has now been published. You can view your e-petition at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41065

anon says:
25 April 2013

i use a clasic account which is my parents and as my dad past away i use his debit card until it runs out
and my mom needs to tell the bank about him
so i went to the lloyyds bank to open an classic account with my main income of job seekers
and was told i could not have a classic account but have a cash account and got my debit card
and tried it at the cashpoint atmy local shop and the machine said that i can’t use it here
and upon looking at the back of the card it can only be used at lloydds cash machines

im thinking of starting my own bank up to pi%&% the banks off so people can have a clasic account working or on any benefits