Review of the week: Alliance & Leicester Premier Account

The majority of people have never switched their current account – in fact we’re more likely to get divorced than change bank. A number of providers are seeking to alter our behaviour and get us into the switching habit by offering incentives to new current account customers.

One of those is Alliance & Leicester, part of the Santander Group which also owns Abbey. It has been actively trying to increase its share of the current account market for a number of years. It is currently offering £100 to those who sign up for its Premier Account but this incentive won’t be around for much longer. It’s being pulled on November 8, so you need to act quickly if you want to benefit from this special offer.

But is it an offer worth taking advantage of? We take a look.

What’s the deal?

The Premier Account pays 0.50% on balances up to £2,500 for the first year – this isn’t the highest in-credit rate available, you can earn 6.0% with A&L’s Premier Direct Account and Abbey’s Preferred In-Credit Account, while Lloyds pays up to 4.0% on its Classic Account with Vantage. However, 0.50% is better than the rates on many current accounts.

You earn just 0.1% on balances above £2,500 and, after the first 12 months, this is what you’ll earn on the entire balance.

New customers also benefit from an interest-free overdraft, which lasts for a year. This is available for overdrafts up to £2,000. Above that you will be charged 50p per day, up to a maximum of £5 per month – this assumes the overdraft is authorised. Unauthorised overdrafts attract much higher fee of £5 per day.
 
One of the additional benefits of the Premier Account is that it includes annual European travel insurance – available for customers up to the age of 65. This only covers the individual though, unless it’s a joint account, in which case both people are covered.

A&L current account customers also have access to a linked savings account, the PlusSaver. However, this is only paying 0.10% at the moment so don’t rush to put your savings in – there are far better deals available elsewhere. Citibank’s Flexible Saver Issue 6, for example, pays 3.30% and A&L’s own Online Saver Issue 6 is paying 3.00% – 30 times more than the PlusSaver.

Does everyone qualify?

You must be 21 or over to be eligible for a Premier Account. A&L also requires at least £500 to be paid into the account each month.

It is a branch-based account (unlike Premier Direct which is an online deal) and you can transact via a branch, online or over the phone.

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What about the £100 incentive – do all new customers receive it?

In a word, no. In order to qualify for the £100 you must switch your account using A&L’s online switching service and transfer your direct debits to the account.

The reason for this is to ensure you use the account as a current account and don’t just open it to take advantage of the £100 cashback.

Verdict

The A&L Premier Account is one of the most competitive current accounts on the market and it’s well worth considering, particularly given the £100 switching incentive.

Although the in-credit rate isn’t the best, the inclusion of free European travel insurance is a nice perk. Also, A&L has, probably, the leading overdraft offer, so it’s also an attractive deal if you are in the red.

If you haven’t switched your current account recently then it really is worth taking advantage of one of the great deals available. Many people are put off because there is a perception that changing current account is not worth the hassle – but you could literally be hundreds of pounds a year better off as a result and your new bank will do most of the work for you. It will arrange the transfer of your direct debits and standing orders. For more on how the switching process works read our article ‘How to switch your current account’.

Top tip

Don’t just go for the account that offers the most generous incentive or the highest in-credit rate. The current account market is changing and you need to think about how you use your account when working out the best deal for you. If you tend to run your account in the red, then the cost of going overdrawn is more important than the amount paid for being in credit.

There are accounts to suit all types of customer – so make sure you pick the right one.

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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