Changing bank accounts doesn’t come naturally to me – I’ve only done it twice in 25 years. But I’m now prepared to move banks 20 times in the next 20 years if I see the need.
The reason for my change of heart is the new Current Account Switch Service, which guarantees to move your account and all linked payments, within seven days. I’ve used it, it worked for me and I’ll use it again.
Until the service arrived last September, I was a loyal and lazy banking consumer.
But when a government-backed service claims to do everything for you in seven working days, and ensures any payments that go astray for 13 months will be redirected, it has to be worth a try.
So I spent 10 minutes filling in an online application form and wandered off to enjoy a weekend. Seven working days later, a text arrived, saying my switch was complete.
My old bank account was automatically closed, and all my payments transferred over without a problem. I can no longer see why anyone would stay with a bank that wasn’t giving them the best possible account for their needs.
Seven working days to switch
The switching service has its drawbacks; it doesn’t let you compare accounts on price – which is particularly important for those who regularly dip into authorised or unauthorised overdrawn.
Also, not all banks have the same processes for switching. Mine went through smoothly online, but others require phone conversations. And it can take more than seven working days to switch if you’re opening a new account; the seven-day guarantee only kicks in once the new account is open.
These flaws may explain why more people aren’t using it. In the switching service’s first eight months, to the end of April this year, about 650,000 accounts have been moved in this way. It’s around a 14% year-on-year increase, but the numbers are a fraction of the 49m UK bank accounts.
The TNS Current Account Switching Index, which is tracking the service, believes people may still be staying where they are because the alternatives aren’t attractive enough.
The companies that have benefitted are offering something different. Santander, which has a popular cashback account, has gained 22% of switched accounts, and Nationwide Building Society, which offers 5% interest, is consistently increasing switchers. So as banks, building societies and supermarkets, now including Tesco Bank put new current accounts on the market, there is every reason to see whether a switch would benefit you.
The more we switch, the more banks will have to respond to our needs. So I’ll be checking my account against new options regularly and if there’s a better option, I’ll be off.