Post Office extends current account roll out

The Post Office is extending a pilot current account scheme to another 81 branches – meaning the account range will now be offered via a total of 110 high street branches.

The move involves branches in the East Midlands and East of England, and follows the introduction of the Control, Standard and Packaged accounts to 29 branches in East Anglia last May.

John Willcock, head of current accounts at the Post Office, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be extending the reach of our current accounts offering into East Midlands and East of England.

“This exciting move is in line with our planned next steps into making our accounts accessible to thousands of customers who are looking for a credible alternative to their existing bank.”

Kevin Mountford, head of banking at MoneySuperMarket, said he expects further announcements of the accounts becoming available in more branches over the coming months.

“The Post Office announcement that it is extending its current account pilot across the East Midlands and East of England, making its three accounts available in over 100 branches, is good news for customers who have access to those branches.

“However, while it is disappointing that the national roll-out isn’t happening as quickly as anticipated, the Post Office is clearly making sure that the account roll-out is done in a controlled manner. Making the accounts nationally available in all of its 11,500 branches in one go could cause problems in fulfilling the expected high demand. I would expect further roll out of Post Office current accounts to other regions over the coming months.”

Easier switching

Moving your current account has become quicker and easier recently, thanks to the introduction of the seven-day switching guarantee.

And according to the Post Office’s own research, 41% of customers planning to or thinking of moving from their current bank would consider switching to a Post Office current account.

It is hoped that the launch of new accounts from providers outside the traditional banking sector will help to open up the market and give consumers more choice.

Kevin Mountford said: “As well as current accounts from The Post Office, we will also see new accounts being launched by other challenger brands such as Tesco Bank and Virgin Money so it will be interesting to see whether the stranglehold of the big high street banks will finally be loosened in 2014, especially now customers are able to switch accounts in just seven days.”

Post Office accounts

The Post Office accounts are not right for everyone, though. Of the accounts, Control is aimed at low-income customers, or those with black marks on their credit files, and comes with a £5 monthly fee that the Post Office uses to ensure people do not face further fees should direct debits go unpaid, for example.

The Packaged account, meanwhile, offers benefits such as breakdown cover and family travel insurance in return for an £8 fee, making the Standard account the only fee-free option. This requires an opening balance of at least £100 and pays no in-credit interest, although there are no unarranged borrowing charges and a fairly low arranged overdraft rate of 14.9% (AER) to boot.

“Always make sure you choose the right current account for your own individual needs in order to make sure you get the best value from your bank account over the long term,” said Kevin Mountford.

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