5 reasons to switch bank account

If you've had the same current account for as long as you can remember, you could be missing out on a whole host of benefits.

Current accounts have become increasingly innovative in recent months, and many now offer a range of incentives for making the switch.

So why not make today the day you decide to open an account that better matches your needs? If you need a little convincing, here are five reasons to persuade you.

1. Earn a decent interest rate on your savings

If you're a saver, finding a decent home for your money will no doubt be proving a challenge. But have you considered stashing more of your cash in a current account?

Savings rates have been on a downward spiral for some time, but interest rates on current accounts have been getting better, and some now beat those on offer from the majority of savings accounts.

The Nationwide FlexDirect Current Account, for example, pays a handsome annual equivalent rate (AER) of 5.00% fixed for 12 months on balances up to £2,500.

Compare that to the 1.75% you'd earn with the most competitive easy access account from Britannia, and it's easy to see why it could be worth shifting your funds to the Nationwide account.

But be aware you must fund your account with £1,000 or more a month, and once the 12 months are up, the rate falls to 1.00%.

If you have a larger sum to stash away, you can earn up to 3.00% AER on balances up to £20,000 with the Santander 123 current account. You'll earn 1.00% AER on balances from £1,000, 2.00% on balances from £2,000 and 3.00% on balances between £3,000 and £20,000. But you must fund the account with at least £500 a month and there is a £2 monthly fee.

Another option is the Halifax Reward Current Account. Switch to this account and you'll receive £100 for your trouble, but on top, you'll also receive £5 each month you pay in at least £750 and pay out at least two direct debits. You must also stay in credit.

2. Earn cashback when you spend

As well as becoming more competitive in terms of the interest they pay, current accounts are also starting to offer tempting cashback deals.

In addition to offering an AER of up to 3.00%, the Santander 123 current account also offers cashback on some of the direct debits that leave the account. You'll earn 1.00% on your water bills, council tax bills and Santander mortgage payments, 2.00% cashback on your gas and electricity bills, and 3.00% on your mobile phone, home phone, broadband and paid-for TV packages.

NatWest and RBS have also launched a Cashback Plus Loyalty Programme which is available on its Select Current Account and paid-for accounts.

With this scheme, you earn at least 1.00% cashback on qualifying purchases at participating retailers such as Cineworld, Caffe Nero, BP, H.Samuel and Ernest Jones. All you need to do is activate your account online and then start shopping. Once you've racked up at least £5 worth of rewards, you can then bank the cash, exchange it for gift cards or tickets from selected retailers, or donate your money to charity.

Not to be outdone, Halifax is launching its own cashback scheme on its current accounts in mid to late September (the date hasn’t yet been confirmed). Customers will be able to earn cashback of between 5% and 15% on purchases from retailers including Morrisons, Argos, Homebase, Oasis, O2, Domino's Pizza and Play.com.

If you sign up to the Halifax Cashback Extras scheme, you’ll be able to view a range of offers (selected by Halifax based on your spending habits) whenever you log in online or through mobile banking. You select which offers you want to activate and earn cashback whenever you use your Halifax debit card or credit card at those particular stores, whether on the high street or online. The cashback will be paid into your chosen Halifax current account at the end of the following month.


3. Better customer service

Many of us love to moan about our bank. But if you're tired of receiving poor customer service, it's time to switch to a bank that offers great customer service!

Recent figures from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) show that Lloyds Banking Group was the most complained-about financial business in the first half of the year. Barclays was also high on the list.

In contrast, one bank that is renowned for its excellent customer service is First Direct. So if this is important to you, take a look at the First Direct 1st Account which will give you £125 if you switch to it, and a further £100 if you're not happy and leave the bank after six months.

You'll need to pay at least £1,000 into this account and transfer at least two direct debits and/or standing orders within three months of opening it. Be aware that after six months, you'll be charged £10 a month unless you pay in at least £1,000 a month or hold another financial product with the bank.

4. Free overdraft

If you're prone to dipping into the red from time to time, shelling out for interest and/or fees can make using your overdraft expensive.

But switch to the Nationwide FlexDirect Current Account, and you'll receive a fee-free overdraft for 12 months. After this, you'll pay 50p per day.

Alternatively, if you know you're likely to need an overdraft for longer than 12 months, First Direct's 1st Account offers a fee-free overdraft of £250. Anything over this will be charged at an annual percentage rate (APR) of 15.9%.

5. 7-Day Switch rules have landed!

Finally, if you think switching current accounts will be a hassle, think again! From Monday, September 16, the Current Account Switch Service comes into effect, and the process of switching accounts will take seven working days, rather than the existing 18 to 30 working days. However, be aware that the seven working days only start from when the account is opened, so it could take a little longer overall due to the different application processes banks have.

Thanks to the new service, the process of switching current accounts should become much easier and more reliable, so there really is no excuse not to switch to a better current account.

You can read more about the service in my article and our video, and you can compare a wide range of accounts with our comparison service.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct

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