/ Money

RBS restricts access to ATMs – 1m customers lose out

Man using RBS cash machine

If you have a basic bank account with RBS or Natwest, you’ll soon find it a lot harder to withdraw cash as you won’t be able to use rivals’ machines. But why punish the customers who can afford it least?

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is changing the terms of its basic bank account so that customers (including those who bank with Natwest, which it also owns) won’t be able to use rivals’ cash machines.

There are around 42,000 free-to-use cash machines in the UK, but only around 8,000 are operated by RBS/Natwest. So this change will exclude basic bank account holders from using over 80% of the UK’s free-to-use cash machines.

Inconvenience for basic bankers

There has been no press release issued by RBS announcing the change, but news has leaked out as letters land on the doorsteps of some of RBS’s 1.1 million basic bank account holders.

Basic bank accounts were developed to provide those who had previously been outside the banking system with access to a simple account without an overdraft that they could use to receive their wages, withdraw cash and pay bills.

It’s very difficult to function in society without access to a bank account and this kind of financial exclusion can lead to significant costs on the people who can afford it least.

Limiting the use of other cash machines is likely to inconvenience basic bank account holders and lead to extra costs and hassle if they have to travel further to obtain cash. Even worse, these changes could force them to stop using their account and go back to managing all of their money in cash – imposing extra costs at a time when they can least afford it.

Money-saving exercise

It seems as though RBS is making the change to save money. RBS UK retail bank made significant profits in the first half of this year, but the performance of the overall group was dragged down by losses in its corporate and investment bank.

We are calling for RBS to reverse its decision and for other banks to commit to offering universal cash machine access for basic bank account holders.

Do you think it’s fair that RBS is making these changes, which hit the most vulnerable? What impact would it have on you if you could only use your own bank’s cash machines?

Steve says:
5 December 2011

NatWest claim their branch is 0.5 miles away…… Wonder how they work that out. I had to get cash to pay for my lunch at work, 10 minutes and 2 mile round trip., Compared to 0.1 mile to my nearest cash machine. Thankfully at 7.10am there not much traffic and I could park outside the branch, otherwise a 20p is needed to park 5 minutes walk from the branch. I feel sorry for those who live in rural locations or work on the outskirts of town/city and need cash, not £5 of something not necessarily needed. just to get cash!

Tonight I have walked into town to get cash from the bank and also signed the acceptance paper work for a standard current account. I’ll probably miss my employers pay cut off, but can simply shift all the money from the STEP account into my new current account

And folks if you are on a DMP plan, make sure you say NO to Cheque Book & NO to an Overdraft facility – this worked for me! (Although my DM Company don’t recommend it).

If you haven’t please sign the petition.

John says:
9 December 2011

This is just plain stupid I’ve just come out of hospital and carnt drive the cash mc that is a 2 min walk down road now can not be used so my now local cash point is 2 miles away , this needs to be reversed now think customers for once not just about your own pockets

Jerome says:
9 December 2011

I was extremely disappointed with the move by RBS and have since proceed to transfer all my savings over to the Bank of Scotland. I was on a key account and they bascially said they “upgraded” my account to the basic current account which in my view is actually a downgrade. When I phone them up, all they try to do is to sell me products that carries a monthly fee of £13. These products don’t appeal to me in any shape or form. My advice to people out there is to do what we do with mobile phones and utilities i.e. switch to another bank. Make your views known to the banks as well so that other banks won’t follow suit. I think RBS has a seriously lack of hindsight. In my case, they have lost a customer with a few thousand pounds of savings. Not a lot of savings but adds to the pot.

Jools says:
11 December 2011

This is ridiculous …. I have to walk 10 mins one way to get cash out to the do a 20 min walk in the other direction to get to my butchers and veg shop. I have a 4 week old and could do with out this hassle. I think changing banks will solve this, I can’t see how this is saving me money so I have no loyalty

adam rhodes says:
18 January 2012

This is absolutely ridicolous, im 20, i live 3 miles away from the nearest natwest atm which is in the town centre, which in the week closes at 4-5. so one day when i forget my cash, forget to pay the eledctric, what do i do then? sit here and let my 8 month kid cry and scream because there’s nothing i can do. They may be happily sitting at home with a pension bleeding out their wallet but that’s nowhere near the case for me. they’ve put no consideration to what they were doing, they misinformed a hell of a lot of people! im with natwest, my letter never stated ” your new card can ONLY be used at natwest or rbs”. i will be going in tommorow and speaking to the manager, i hope this gets reported and both banks get what they deserve, people are not sheep, but they will follow the pack and LEAVE these banks if this isn’t changed, very soon.

Different Rules says:
29 January 2012

I opened a basic bank account with RBS in March 2006 when I entered into a trust deed (previously was with Bank of Scotland). My protected trust deed was completed In January 2009. I have conducted all of my banking with RBS since March 2006 until they changed my right to access cash machines to RBS and Natwest only in October 2011 although my credit score is now good and I have been a customer with no blips whatsoever in over 5 and a half years with them. According to their criteria for current bank accounts I was automatically ineligible as I entered into a type of bankruptcy agreement within the last 6 years so they would not allow me to upgrade my account. I work and always have full time with more £1,000 paid in monthly. I appealed this decision and was refused with no explanation. I am so angry that RBS publicly owned and secretly bailed out by tax payers money were able to treat me so shabbily when I had struggled to find a solution to my debts (due to relationship breakdown and bank charges mostly) that I have fulfilled using transparent legal means – I thought I was just getting back on track and then this happened. I have since changed to the Cooperative Bank.

Andy says:
29 January 2012

I have been a loyal customer for 9 years and think this is a JOKE, if all 1million accounts went elsewhere then that would be around £1000 for each account per month missing from Natwest/RBS = 1 billion pounds per month so even if just 5% go elsewhere that’s 50 million pounds per month less or 600 million pounds per month and that’s just a conservative estimate.

Less money coming in = less money to lend out = less interest earned per annum for the bank.

Well done, now go collect your 645k bonus…………………………………….. NOT !!!

Andy says:
29 January 2012

Meant 600 million pounds per year.

sharon bruce says:
3 February 2012

I changed to natwest 7 years ago as i was always hassled at lloydes to upgrade my account. my step account gave me everything i wanted from a bank account. I live in a rural area of cornwall and do not drive and there are only 2 cashpoints 5 miles apart and it become harder for me to get my money specially when the cashpint was out of order on sevral occasions. as having a step account in good order and always in credit i do not actally get interest on my account but my bank does. I finally closed my account today after the final direct debit had come out. Im sure they will be missing the £1,000 plus that passes through my account every month. bye bye natwest and im sure i wont be the last…

Michelle says:
3 February 2012

I had to upgrade this week, I had no choice. Im so angry about it. I can not move banks, Im on a DMP and can not apply to other banks. I was finding it so hard to get money out, Im 8 months pregnant, and the final straw came when the post office (who do give free Natwest withdrawals) refused my husband some money because I had withdrawn some the same day. This is despite us having £250 card limits each. Apparently because I had withdrawn £150 and my husband wanted to withdraw £150 it ‘looked like we might be behaving fraudulently’ !!!. I spoke to Natwest who said they didnt know whay the post office had said this, and we should have been allowed to both withdraw cash from our account, but I was in tears from the hassle of it all. Now I have to pay £8 a month for useless benefits, just to use local cashpoints. Natwest, I hate you as a company and would love to tell you to stick your account where the sun doesnt shine, but you have a hold over people like us and you know it. Karma is going to get you though, just you wait and see.

The bank were right to say what they did. However, personally, i would have refused to leave the teller at post office and blocked any other customer from using it, just for the accusation ‘looked like we might be behaving fraudulently’ .
They have just accused you of committing fraud. I would have got an apology and my money or forced them to get the police.
Then if the police came i would have demanded that the person accusing me of fraud was sued for defamation and also sued the post office.
I would have accepted the apology if the police arrived, only if that person was sacked on the spot.
I would still have sued them no matter if an apology was received. And it would have had to be put in writing.
Noone should be allowed to get away with calling you a criminal which is what the post office worker did by their comment.

Steve says:
23 February 2012

why are you paying £8 a month for useless benefits? the standard select account is free and you can use any cash machine.

I recently upgraded to a Current Account (£8 per month fee!!) mainly because of the ATM farce. I needed cash for car park so tried to withdraw cash from an ATM at my local hospital but couldn’t, I can only assume this is because of the restriction on Natwest customers using other ATM’s….someone please remind me what I am paying £8 a month for????

Steve says:
23 February 2012

Select accounts allow you to withdraw from any ATM. Sounds like your hospital ATM was one of the ones that charge everyone. To find out whether the ATM is a chargeable one or has other restrictions have a look at the LINK website.

BTW You should only need a free Select Account, not one with benefits like Lovefilm & travel insurance.

Michelle says:
24 February 2012

why are you paying £8 a month for useless benefits? the standard select account is free and you can use any cash machine.

Steve, the point is that you can’t upgrade from a step (basic) account to a select account, Natwest will make you open a whole new account. Which means notifying all your direct debits, wages, tax credits, child benefit etc etc. Its not made easy. But Natwest will happily upgrade to a select silver account without the need for a whole new account, but then they have you over a barrel and they can charge you £8 a month for pretty rubbish ‘benefits’.

I got the standard letter from Nat West saying that I had to change my account. I work away a lot so made an appointment to go into my branch, spoke to the lady there who changed my account from a Step to a Select in under 5 mins, it can be done if you ask them
I also have a First Reserve savings account and found out the other day I can get a card for that that I can use in any cash point, I just can’t have DD / SO etc from it, so I have now got two options
The important thing is to talk to your local branch, they can help

Michelle says:
24 February 2012

Daz, I found them to be completely unhelpful. I asked several times for a fee free account as I am on a DMP, and they simply would not consider it unless I opened a brand new bank account, as I said above. It was far too much hassle, and we can not move to a different bank because of aforementioned DMP.
I reported it all to the financial ombudsman, who have investigated and said that they can not proceed with my complaint because Natwest have followed their own guidelines. Basically, they can do what they want, as long as they tell you they are doing it.

Barry says:
17 March 2013

I laughed at my brother when Lloyds bank did this to him, now it’s no joke.
I’m fed up of travelling round trying to find a cah machine I can use, wherever I am . I don’t have a basic account, I pay £13 a month for my Rbs gold account, so don’t understand why I am limited. I even got turned away by a nat west cash machine today,
But if we all moan about it on here yet do nothing then it’s a big waste of time.
I will be moving my 3 Rbs accounts elsewhere, not Lloyds though !!

Andrew gibson says:
31 October 2014

I think its fine that they limit to rbs and nat west I could not get bankaccount any where as bad credit history and having access to to many atms is to easy to get money out when not really needed, well done thinkmoney, rbs and natwest keep it up, don’t let the other banks drag you down with them

Andrew gibson says:
31 October 2014

And for people moaning about paying 13.50 a month go join another bank and see what you get charged for going in overdraft, missing a direct debit payment, do I need to say anymore. Any way why bother with cashpoint when you can go into tescos etc and buy 20p sweet and get cashback,
Stop moaning and get a life

michelle says:
31 October 2014

Your comments are a few years too late Andrew. The rest of us had built a bridge and gotten over our issue (which by the way is a lot more involved than you appear to have understood).

And personally, i wouldn’t be keen on lining Tesco’s pockets every time i needed some money.

Ruby Henderson says:
24 November 2014

I just got a text from RBS this afternoon saying i can now withdraw cash at any atm i choose after several years having to go out of my way to find one of theirs. oh joy…………………!