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Switch your current account in seven days – guaranteed!

A guarantee rubber stamp

From September, switching current accounts is set to be faster and easier. A switching guarantee will hopefully give extra confidence to customers – do you trust your bank to help you move elsewhere?

Let’s face it, with the reputation of the banking industry the way it is at the moment, it’s difficult to trust what they say. So, when I hear about a new initiative that’s supposed to be of benefit to customers, forgive me if I take it with a handful of salt.

But come September 2013, a positive change will finally arrive. A new bank account switching service will be introduced, allowing you to punish your provider for poor service by moving your money to a new home in just seven working days.

And now, the Payments Council (the body that looks after anything to do with payment services) has announced the details of the switching guarantee. The announcement has given me a glimmer of hope that this new service might actually deliver something positive for bank account customers.

Switching with confidence

The guarantee includes the following details:

  • The service is free to use and is guaranteed
  • Your new bank will take care of the movement of all of your payments going in and out
  • If you have money in your old account, it will be moved to your new account on your switch date
  • For 13 months, your new bank will arrange for payments made to your old account to be redirected automatically to your new account
  • If anything goes wrong, your new bank will refund any interest paid or lost on either your old or new account as a result of the failure

These simple rules feel like a relative breath of fresh air – but the government could’ve been more ambitious in developing a service that would really empower the customer.

We think the government should introduce portable account numbers, allowing you to take your account number with you from bank to bank. We need a better system if we’re going to make switching truly hassle-free.

Will you try speedy switching?

The last time we wrote about current account switching, you shared some of your frustrations with the current system. Sue 1969 said:

‘I have been trying to switch bank accounts from Lloyds to HSBC, where my husband banks. I have been told that it would be straightforward, but it hasn’t been and two months later I’m still trying to switch.’

And some of you were cynical about the new service working. Alan said: ‘This seven-day time limit sounds like another promise the banks will break’.

So will this new switching service encourage you to move banks when their service is poor?


I don’t want to be negative, although I’m going to be. But why focus on giving a 7 day guarantee on switching current accounts. Very people actually do this. And like any scheme they should start off small and work up to bank accounts, ironing out issues on the way. Given that the number of people who transfer ISAs EVERY year compared to the number of people of transfer bank accounts in their lifetime, I would have liked to see them tackle that black hole first then move onto current accounts.

I just moved ISA and the money was neither in the old account nor the new account for 12 days, that needs to be addressed. I last moved bank around 20 years ago, and have no intention of moving again, now I’m with a good bank that’s rated as such year in year out. And if they can’t deal with one account with no DDs/standing orders/cheque books attached to it in under 12 days, they’ll never manage bank accounts in 7.

I’ve switched bank accounts a few times and never had a problem with the banks themselves, its the companies I pay by direct debits that cause the problems. On the past 2 occasions I’ve swapped accounts the UK’s most useless ISP TalkTalk has managed to mess up and not update their systems in time and continue trying to collect money from the old account.

I’ve had a Lloyds current account for about 30 years, which I opened when I went to university, and am happy with it and don’t intend to close it. However, I have had other current accounts in the meantime, but always kept the Lloyds account dormant and repeatedly went back to it (it’s currently my only current account.) When I got divorced I closed a joint account I had with Santander and asked my employer to pay my salary into my Lloyds account. However, I didn’t know that expenses are paid using a different system, so didn’t tell our expenses people to change my bank details. I don’t claim expenses very often; maybe once every two or three years. I’ve just had an expenses payment bounce because they tried to pay it into the Santander account which I had closed two years ago. So how is this new guarantee meant to help? The 13 months stated in your article is not long enough. It should be indefinite.

Perhaps this wouldn’t be an issue if we had portable bank account numbers. I’m not sure. If this system works like portable telephone numbers, then the old bank account will close as soon as the new one is opened. I don’t want that. If I find something I don’t like about the new bank account (e.g. if it uses a calculator-type card reader for security in Internet banking, or if you can only reach it using 08 numbers instead of geographical ones) then I would like to be able to go back to my old account.

david says:
17 August 2013

Judging by all the trouble I have had with banks over the last 50years.More recently with ISA transfers,the chances of banks getting it right,pigs will fly first.