/ Money

What would make you switch current account?

What would make you switch banks? It’s a question I’ve thought about for months as my bank has done one thing after another that has niggled me. But this month, I’ve finally taken the plunge.

It’s only taken 20 years. In fact more than 20 years. I’ve changed jobs, partners, homes, dentists, even (sadly) hair colour since the day in September 1993 when I first darkened the doors of the bank’s branch in my home town.

And it seems that plenty of others share my ‘loyalty’, if you can call it that. More than one in three people have had their current account with the same bank for 20 years, according to figures released by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last month. More than half of people have been with the same bank for a decade.

The CMA’s report found that customers were more likely to switch providers for their car insurance, energy, internet, mobile phone or mortgage than their current account.

So why not switch current account before?

After more than nine years working at Which? I know all the benefits of switching current account, so why haven’t I done it before?

The bank was my first after leaving university. Its branch was close to home, it was where my sister worked and I knew several of the staff quite well – they were friendly and helpful. The overdraft facility was reasonable, it didn’t pester me and it didn’t try to sell me lots of products.

But since then? Well, they’ve been… OK. Alright. Not bad, but not great.

Truth is, my expectations were pretty low. I just wanted somewhere for my salary to be deposited. They weren’t bad enough to make it worth while looking around.

The CMA report again found that many others felt the same – 81% of those surveyed didn’t even look at different options.

So why switch banks now?

Banks increasingly offer incentives of cash to entice you to go with them. But for me, it’s not about the money. My bank’s customer service seems to have got worse and worse. It culminated recently when, despite checking that I wouldn’t have to tell them I was going on holiday to the US, the bank decided to put a block on my account. To unblock it, I had to text the bank from abroad – at my own expense.

So now I’ve switched and, actually, it was easier than I thought. I used the seven-day switching service and, so far, all seems to be trouble free.

Oddly though I still feel a pang as if changing bank has been like leaving a part of my life behind.

Have you had the same current account for a long time? What would make you look elsewhere? Do you look around for higher interest or monthly payments, or do you wait for something to go wrong?

Comments
Profile photo of Loulou
Member

The reason I haven’t switched, since changing from Barclays to Lloyds 13 years ago, is the hassle you have to go through with the bank you are leaving. They didn’t have the ‘7 Day Switching Service’ back then. As a 15 year old boy it was very difficult for me to gather up all the documentation they needed to process the closure of the bank account. So that experience has put me off switching again.

Profile photo of graham.tyrrell
Member

Given that Barclays are one of the only banks who won’t be signing up to join the Apple Pay scheme when it comes to the UK in July simply because they’ve got a rival scheme that has failed to take off, I may seriously consider leaving them after 10 years.

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

If a bank current account is a place to keep money and pay bills automatically, mine has been succesful in doing this accurately for as long as I can remember. That’s why I haven’t even considered changing it. There are a couple of new accounts that pay interest now, within certain limits and with a few caveats, but I am not sufficiently motivated to explore these further. A current account, for me, is for the daily financial transactions in and out. When, occasionally, I find the account growing more than is necessary I simply ship the money elsewhere for a rainy day and ship it back when it rains. They have been very supportive and efficient with my power of attorney and respond to correspondence and instructions without delay. To make me move, I would have to encounter the problems similar to those you list in the opening piece. I know that my loyalty doesn’t mean anything now, and I would not feel like a deserter if I did move. I also know that my banking is simple and straight forward, I could understand the need for others to shift money around regularly. Horses for courses.

Member
Sonny K says:
13 June 2015

If I were writing this comment it would be exactly the same. I’ve been with my bank for over 50 years – it’s not perfect, but it’s not worth the worry or potential hassle to move.

Member
brenda says:
16 June 2015

i agree.

Member
Paul says:
24 June 2015

I agree. For me, my current account is fine for normal in and out transactions – I can look it up online at any time, and the card is fine. It does the job its supposed to do. It seems to me that the real problem is people having savings accounts with their bank, which usually do not have the best rates. Yes, swapping there is a good idea IMO.

Member
pennywise. says:
9 August 2015

Sonny K, I have been with the same building society for well over 50 years . had Bank accounts as well because in the days long gone it was only banks that issued check books for business purposes. Now we are through this era and well into plastic card transactions I would advise anyone to use building societies rather than rip off banks . if it wasn’t for the Nationwide B.S. you would be paying to withdraw your own money from the hole in the wall , as they flatly refused to charge customers for withdrawals , and the same with paying in the cheques occasionally ( yes some people still use them), there is no charge.
Better rates on ISA savings than most banks,intrest on current accounts.Customers are the shareholders .that just about says it all.

Profile photo of Sophie Gilbert
Member

The egregious cluster bomb funding by some UK banks made me switch banks from the RBS.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-banks-fund-deadly-clusterbomb-industry-2338168.html

Member
Biggles says:
13 June 2015

Over the years, I’ve switched dozens of times, mainly the ‘old-fashioned’ way (ie before this new ‘7-day switching service’ came in).

In recent years I’ve switched for many of the £100 to £150 bonuses that banks will give you, as well as for higher interest rates (commonly 4% to 6%). But I’ve still kept my ‘main’ account in the same place, partly for continuity and partly because it works OK.

Without ‘switching’, I would certainly be a few thousand pounds worse off and it’s all been no hassle at all. I can definitely recommend it.

Member
David McCutbath says:
13 June 2015

I have switched, easily, trouble free and at a profit several times. Why stay with a bank that insults long term loyal customers by rewarding new customers with deals? The days are gone when we knew our local Bank Manager, at least by sight, and were able to discuss any situation that required his/her help. At that time we paid 1% above Bank Rate for loans and received interest on our savings of 1% below Bank Rate. Now banks pay pathetically low interest rates, typically less than 1%, whilst charging us typically 18.9% for loaning us another depositor’s cash! It’s a whole new, offensive ball-game. Without depositors the bank could not operate. It has no money. It borrows yours, the investor, the saver, and makes huge profits for virtually no returns. It also lowers its operating costs considerably when customers subscribe to on-line banking and manage and print their own account information at their own cost. Yes, switch whenever possible for a good deal; keep them on their toes, use social media to highlight your banking concerns – it works well!

Member
John Gibson says:
13 June 2015

I have banked with B……….. for 50 years plus, and never had any reason to complain. However, when I asked my local Bank manager why the bank didn’t want to compete with banks paying interest on current accounts, he just shrugged and said ‘ if you want interest, you’ll have to change banks, won’t you ?’
I am therefore considering switching, but feel it is unusual to say the least to be urged to do so by my own bank !

Member
Roger says:
13 June 2015

I’ve had a current account for 50 years. In this time I’ve switched twice. The first time about 20 years ago (to a Which best buy provider), and the second time about 10 years ago. As others have said, I have never been entirely happy with service offered by the banks. What usually happens is that there is an accumulation of niggles that build up until a final niggle “breaks the camel’s back” and I switch to a new provider. The problem is that current accounts are still very much a sellers market. The banks feel their customers are privileged to be banking with them, and treat them accordingly. I can’t see this attitude changing any time soon.

Profile photo of Zany
Member

What a nightmare I have endured since joining Santander (Eastbourne) in Oct. ’14. I had been with Lloyds/Lloyds TSB forever but Santander’s advertising enticed me to swap. I do not want to go into all the reasons why as I get so angry and upset particularly with Customer Services who have not been responsive to my plights..in fact, I have been total ignored and am still waiting for them to contact me. Staff at this branch were wonderful at the change-over stage but since then my experiences have been that they have been inefficient, unprofessional, ignorant and have cared less about all the issues I have with them.

Member
pennywise. says:
9 August 2015

Oh dear June sorry you had to find out the hard way, best change again S.A.P.. should you have more than just one account with Santander and it lies dormant for a few years , you will lose any money you have in it . I have seen reports of people being fleeced by them ,apparently over 6 years and the account gets lost so you don’t get your savings . I would rather put my money in a tin under the bed than bank with Santander.

Member
Bazjay says:
21 June 2015

I’ve not been sufficiently dissatisfied with my energy supplier to switch, and in any case I’m not convinced any small pecuniary advantage in doing so wouldn’t soon be overtaken by events. When it comes to banks, however, I did earlier this year leave NatWest after many decades. My financial affairs being relatively simple, I wasn’t that dissatisfied with them either. Except that they pay no interest, whereas TSB pays 5% on up to £2,000 subject to a few simple conditions, so I switched to them and have not been disappointed. The switching process was very smooth and I had to do very little.