/ 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?

Gillian Dalley says:
26 August 2011

I have just submitted the following e-petition to the government epetition site http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/ and am waiting for it to be posted there – please sign it when it is up on the site.
Title: Stop the Royal Bank of Scotland (owned by taxpayers) from penalising its poorest account holders unfairly:

We call on the government to require the RBS bank (along with its RBS Group co-subsidiary NatWest) to reverse its decision to stop its Basic Bank Account holders (among the poorest people in this country) from being able to use rival banks’ free-to-use cash machines on the grounds that allowing them access is too costly to the bank.
As taxpayers, and therefore owners of RBS, we do not want to be complicit in this big bank’s continuing readiness to penalise poor people (who have suffered disproportionately in the banking failures of the recent past) in seeking to boost its own profits and thence bankers’ bonuses.

Philippa says:
6 September 2011

As a disabled person with an RBS basic account, this is disastrous for me. I will have to go to the city centre to withdraw money – no more local spending – and I can’t walk that well or that far. I really don’t have the energy or pain tolerance to walk further than is absolutely necessary, most of the time. Now I’ll need to go to the city centre, to specific cash machines, just to access my money.

If I had a decent credit record, or enough income, I would get a current account but I can’t, and due to past debt am limited to only a few banks. I have no option to change from RBS for this reason, but am going to really struggle when the changes are implemented in October.

Sally-Ann says:
20 September 2011

Just got my letter telling me about this this makes it a five mile each way walk to draw my money out. Pay cash for my rent and well not be able to do it in one go so two days well have to add ten miles to my miles too work. I pass three other cash point on the way home this is stupid. Don’t drive as I can’t afford it looks like I be get home after dark round pay day

Just rang Natwest after receiving the news about the restrictions on ATM which apply to our account. I rang to register a complaint and they assured me that they were looking into it. The operater went to check with her manager and then there was a complete turn around. She said this was the future and it would not change. I have signed the e-petition and registered a complaint and i would urge everyone to do the same

The Basic account is ‘free’ i.e. we pay no fees to use it. So is the standard Select account.
If used correctly, neither make direct money for RBS, only indirectly via use of our cash in the accounts. Basic is now restricted but Select is not. Why the difference? Surely the money made by overdraft fees on the Select account is not sufficient to pay for the use of non-RBS atm’s? Personally, I would be happy to pay a few quid a year to have access to all ATM’s and pay@pump machines.

Cassie says:
16 October 2011

I don’t see what all the fuss is about to be honest. I’ve had a Lloyd’s TSB basic account for five years and yes its annoying having to find a Lloyd’s ATM or figuring out where the post office is in a town I’m visiting for the first time but its possible to live with it!!! These days the only cash in my wallet is beer money as most of my transactions are done on the net, over the phone or using my card in shops & my guess is most of you are really the same when you think about it. So my question is why are you complaining about a service that really is only a matter of convenience not an essential part of your banking experience?

Nathalia says:
22 November 2011

Your experiences do not reflect the experiences of every other person in the country.

Michelle says:
25 October 2011

As a Natwest STEP account holder, this affects me. Ive spoken to Natwest today, who informed me that I could UPGRADE my account to a select silver, with all its ‘wonderful’ benefits for £8 a month. I pressed her and asked if there were any fee free accounts that would allow me to use any cash machine and she told me I could RE-APPLY for a basic select account. Which means I would have to change account numbers and all my direct debits/standing orders and everyone who pays money into the account. Totally unfair, and Ive reported it to the financial Ombudsman today. Im also on a DMP, and Natwest know this, so why are they offering to upgrade me to a fee paying select silver account? Disgusting, greedy and penalising those of us who can not afford fees or do not want to line the banks pockets.

byron boulter says:
29 October 2011

what goes around comes around,make life hard for us and we will go some where else.

After registering my complaint I have had a result. Natwest rang me and said they were changing my account to a basic select, no fees and they would send a new card out and all debits would be transferred without me changing anything. Now I can use any ATM when the new rules come in. What they told me was different to Michelle’s post above so I would persist and make a complaint.
Good Luck to all

I received the paperwork today. It is exactly as they said. Same account No. and DDs changed over automatically.

Eddie says:
19 November 2011

The rbs offered me a “upgraded” account and a few other people I know also had the same offer, this is to force customers into the bank to offer them more expensive services they dont want or need.These guys have learned nothing from their collapse and still think they can abuse customers as they want. I am moving my account .

Donna says:
24 November 2011

It’s ridiculous if the Natwest cash machine goes down near me the nearest to me is 7 miles away. Other people are in the situation, Natwest offered me an upgrade but at a cost, why should I pay more just to draw my own money out of my account..

yep i jst went to 3 link machines and all 3 told me my transaction was cancelled….didn’t know about this not allowing natwest customers to use link machines til i got back home and asked a mate about it……not good when you have to travel quite a few miles to the nearest natwest atm.

Michelle says:
25 November 2011

Ive taken my case to the Financial Ombudsman. I am on a DMP, Natwest are aware of this, yet they are actively encouraging me to upgrade my account to a select silver, costing £8 per month. This is £8 that if I had spare I would use towards paying my creditors, not lining the pockets of greedy banks. £96 a year is a lot of money, simply to withdraw MY money from any cash machine.
I queued in the post office today for 20 minutes to get cash out. I would still rather do that than give any money to Natwest. Helpful banking? Dont make me laugh.

Richard says:
25 November 2011

Natwest changed the Electron cards and put the Visa on so it would make it better for the customer.

Now we are technically have to using a useless Electron card. I doubt its just cash machines that will be effected I am just waitng for the one shop I go to and buy some clothes with a massive queue behind me and I get the lady saying ‘ Your Card is Declined’

Time to start hunting for new bank.

Steve says:
29 November 2011

Good luck to Michelle – I wondered why I couldn’t upgrade to a Select Basic account, so tonight have applied for a select basic without cheque book or overdraft facility. I’ll see what Nat West do, otherwise like many I’ll be off to another bank, which will be interesting as I am on a DMP and owe to Barclays, Coop, Nationwide.

Like Richard I wonder how long before shops refuse to take payment from basic bank account holders?

Thankfully my nearest Nat West & RBS are 0.5miles away, but that isn’t the point. My nearest cash machine is 3 minutes walk from my house and if that is broke another minute brings me to the next. All being well to say I can withdraw cash at a shop, I doubt many are going to be too pleased for me to queue up without making a purchase and ask for cash back. Don’t Nat West realise that you have to buy a product or products over £5 in order to get cash back?

Anyway I have signed the Petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/13252
fingers crossed everyone.

1 December 2011


Gareth says:
3 December 2011

I live in rural west Wales where there is never more than one Natwest ATM in any town, last night the Natwest ATM was out of order. I couldn’t withdraw money from the other banks, neither could I afford the £5 that I would have to spend in order to get cashback. I had to walk the six miles home as I couldn’t pay for the bus. We are now treated like second class citizens because we have been in financial difficulty in the past, whereas the banks, responsible for the financial crisis are allowed to get away with this, and after we have bailed them out. How is this fair on the most vulnerable people?

i have now moved to another bank due to this problem….the thing is when confronting natwest about the problem they offered me the silver account which will cost me monthly to use, i said i wasn’t interested in this option…i then said to them that they would lose so many customers this way….all i got was a shrug….good riddance to them

Laura says:
5 December 2011

I went to the NEC yesturday with a friend and thought i would only take a small amount of cash with me. To our surprise ALL the stalls were cash only. There were a few cash machines dotted around (charging £2,50!) but none would take my Natwest card. It is highly embarrassing and i had to borrow money from my friends credit card. If i was there on my own and had run out of cash there would have been NO WAY of me getting home or as a matter of fact enjoying a day out. Natwest can stick there account – im moving!

Hannah says:
5 December 2011

I have a STEP account now known as the Basic account with Natwest and only found out when I tried to withdraw cash from a non RBS cash machine at a petrol station – it’s a good job I have a standard current account with them for my direct debits or I would have had some embarrassment.. It’s a complete lack of communication again from the banks who seem to think they have control over our finances – I only use this ‘basic’ account for disposable income and can’t imagine what stress it has caused to those who live nowhere near an RBS/Natwest cash machine (the nearest one to me is 4 miles drive).