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.
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?