Don’t whinge about your bank – if you’re not happy with the service, the rates, or the way it’s operating as a whole, then leave. Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is here to tell how to do it.
Switching isn’t too huge a hassle
Switching bank isn't the hassle it was. Banks' switching services move direct debits and standing orders for you. You just need to tell those who pay you (eg, employers) the new details. My tip is to keep your old account open for a few months, with minimal funds, as a back-up in case something is missed.
The banks that will pay you to switch
There’s a price war on right now. First Direct has topped every customer service poll I’ve ever done, and will currently pay you £100 to switch to it (minimum salary £22,800). It has a 0% overdraft up to £250.
For pure financial gain, try Santander. Its 123 current account is offering up to 3% cashback on bills like council tax and phones and you can also earn interest on your balance, up to 3% for those with £3,000 - £20,000, although there is a £2 per month fee.
Halifax also gives £100 if you switch to it by Sunday, plus it pays £5 a month, each month if you pay your salary in (minimum £14,000/year). Though don’t touch Halifax or Santander if you ever go overdrawn, as their charges are awful.
Is ethical banking an oxymoron?
Not all bank account providers are solely focused on maximising cash for shareholders. But if you think all banks are (insert rude word of your choice), then switch. The Ethical Consumer website rates ethics out of 20 – above 12 is good.
Of the UK wide providers that do well ethically, my top picks financially are Nationwide, which gives free travel insurance on its fee free account, the Co-op, and Norwich & Peterborough which gives unbeatable rates on its debit card if you spend abroad.
Plus, try a non-profit local credit union instead. There are 500 UK-wide, about 25 offer current accounts, while all do savings and loans. There's the same £85,000 per person protection as banks, and the Government's just given them £38 million in extra funding.
I pay a monthly fee? Am I a winner, or just a loser?
Let me guess, the bank called you and said “we’ve this great package with loads of freebies for only a few quid a month”. If so, don’t think of the cost by the month, multiply the fee by 12 for the annual cost, so £25/month is £300/year. Now ask, could you just pay for the freebies you use directly, and pay less for them?
For many, these packaged accounts eat their cash, but for some they do add up. My top pick out there is the Co-op, which gives family worldwide travel insurance, mobile insurance for four phones and breakdown cover for £13 a month, or £156 a year. Not bad, provided you’ll actually use all the cover.
Daily updated hints, tips and money help from Martin Lewis at MoneySavingExpert.com