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?