/ Money

Throw loyalty out the window

Bank card being cut with scissors

So… I have a confession to make. I’ve used the same bank since I opened my first account when I was nine – for no better reason than because my parents’ had an account with it at the time.

I’ve been thinking of switching for a while, but now NatWest has served up an extra reason to get cracking. From July, it is introducing a ‘usage fee’ each month for authorised overdrafts. The £6 charge means that those who go more than £10 into the red every month will pay £72 a year, on top of the 19.89% equivalent annual rate (EAR) interest.

At the same time, NatWest is reducing the maximum amount it will charge each month for use of unauthorised overdrafts from £186 to £90. While this is good news for those who use unauthorised overdrafts, the bank is essentially penalising people who use their overdraft responsibly.

I don’t use my overdraft every month, but I do dip into it occasionally, thus qualifying myself for this disproportionate penalty.

Switching banks for the first time

So I’ve decided that I’m going to switch current account for the first time – to First Direct, a Which? Recommended Provider. It will give me a £250 interest-free overdraft with no charge, plus £100 for switching.

Of course, switching isn’t as easy as it could be. It is about to get simpler though, with a new switching guarantee to be brought in by the Payments Council in September 2013. This will allow you to move your money to a new home in just seven working days. However, we’d still like to see the introduction of portable account numbers, which would let you take your account numbers from bank to bank.

The message we need to send the banks is that they can’t rely on us staying with them out of habit or misplaced loyalty. With money as tight as it is at the moment, people are getting quick to notice when a bum deal is dressed up like a positive change – and they’ll vote with their feet rather than sticking with the status quo.


There is little reward for loyalty offered by any business or institution – although Nationwide offers better interest for longer term members. The rule is to search for what you need and go for the best deal; complacency does not pay.


The banks have shown what a set of theives they are get there selfs in to debt then want us to bail them out


Good luck with your switch to First Direct. The only problem I experienced when I switched to them from Barclays was with the council tax direct debit. At the time (9 years ago) my council did not accept the automatic transfer of bank and I had to contact them direct to arrange the details.

I’m sure we would all love to know how you get on. I have never regretted my move and the telephone banking is so good I rarely use their internet banking.


I most certainly think it is worthwhile changing bank accounts or indeed any other financial service organisations or indeed utilities or indeed look carefully at any products we consume. Isn’t that what this organisation is about. I have been with Which for literally decades and it as been a worthwhile educational experience,to my benefit. I personally have had issues with some conclusions Which has arrived at but they have been few and far between, On this issue Which has consistently recommended First Direct as one of the very best banking services providers. I can certainly concur with that conclusion I have been with First Direct almost since they started over 20 yrs ago. I can assure anyone reading this I most certainly would have changed if I had not been satisfied with their customer service and their products.£250 free overdraft £1000 overdraft very low charges very competitive savings rates ( though these do vary- hence look elsewhere) £100 awarded to your account when you open up your account and should you not bee satisfied they pay you another £100 should you close your account and go elsewhere ( they must be pretty confident about you staying ) The customer service is quite simply the best if you telephone no button pushing you speak to someone straight away and the people at the other end of the line are very accomplished and knowledgeable only transferring you to another department if it is a highly special subject-and the transfer is pretty quick, to if they need to phone you back that is also rapid. Security is in “a league of its own” says Which. I concur. The website is brilliant beautifully logical and well designed.If I can negotiate my way round it easily anyone can. Only the late lamented ING DIRECT was its equal. I do not work for the publicity department or indeed any other department of First Direct I am just a highly satisfied customer for two decades. One point it is only a telephone/internet bank but that hardly matters these days. If you wish to have face to face service with a bank person then you should know that FD are a subsidiary of HSBC and any of there branches treat you as if you were one their customers also you could try one of the new plush instore M&S banks which are also connected to HSBC again they were extremely helpful to me. So yes certainly change your account if you are not happy. I am only recommending who I deem to be the best. Maybe you might get better service from Coutts-you know the royal bank gold embossed statements on parchment-that sort of thing,but then you might not oh and I think you might have to be worth a few million quid?

Michael says:
3 July 2013

I left Santander due to their awful tv ads with button, Ennis and Rory. Couldn’t be associated with a brand who produces that level of garbage

Lauren says:
3 July 2013

I was a loyal customer until my building society left my local town. I generally keep all products with one bank for ease now, e.g. current, joint, savings and isa. With interest rates so low, ease of banking is more of a priority.

Doug says:
3 July 2013

Switch to Metro Bank after HSBC kept on telling me they were cancelling my card due to fraud activity every time I phoned them to say I was due to fly out of the country, despite never having any fraud detected on my accounts. They just happened to always say, ‘we were just about to phone you’. No good when you are at the airport. Numerous complaints just fell on deaf ears. Large banks don’t need to care when they have such a massive customer base. Now Metro bank is a complete different kettle of fish. They are great. Local call centres, no overseas transaction fees on withdrawals. When I had a problem in China where I tried to take cash out at several machines, but the machines didn’t dispense any cash yet still debited me, a phone call to Metro bank got my money back in a few hours. No large bank can do that or is willing to do that. They are open late and on weekends. If I need anything, I can just walk in and they will sort it there and then. Even issue new cards on the spot. They may not offer good interest rates for current accounts, but that is not what I am after. Service and availability is worth so much more.

Dick C says:
5 July 2013

As a Lloyds TSB customer I am left in a difficult position. My branch, the one where I lived 12 years ago and never visit is to become a TSB or until it is hawked on the market to another bank.
My local branch is to become a Lloyds and in order to remain a Lloyds customer, the bank I originally chose after all, I have to apply as a new customer with all the hassle involved.
Lloyds have no apparent plan to ease my transition yet there must be thousands of customers in a similar plight. So much for loyalty!
The breakup is allegedly to increase competition and choice yet customers are not being offered a choice. What happens when another major bank buys TSB? Back to square one!