If so, you are probably one of the 1.2million who took advantage of the 7-Day switch guarantee which, thanks to the Payments Council which introduced the scheme, made it quicker and easier to drop your old account and open up a new one.
7-Day Switch stats
The 1.2m switchers represent a 22% increase on the previous year according to Payment Council figures published this week. They also show that 99% of switches that successfully start are completed in the promised timescale of seven working days.
The redirection service has also successfully forwarded 4.3million payments from a switched customer’s old account to their new one.
The figures suggest the Current Account Switch Service is working well and is opening up the market by encouraging banks to offer more competitive products. But where there is competition, there are inevitable winners and losers…
Winners and losers
The table below is based upon figures from the Payments Council, and shows how many current account customers each major bank and building society has gained and lost in the first full quarter of 2014 – that is, switches completed between January 1, 2014 and March 31, 2014.
Halifax proved to be far and away the biggest winner, pulling in 65,636 customers in the first three months of this year – more than double the 24,078 who decided to leave.
Cold, hard cash could be the secret of Halifax’s success. Not only does the bank offer £100 to anyone making the switch to its Reward Account, it’ll also bung you £5 every month you stay in credit.
Like Halifax, Santander also gained more than double the amount of customers it lost at the start of the year – its 60,882 accounts opened dwarfed the 23,556 it lost. And it seems cashback was, once again the big draw.
Although there was no golden handshake, the bank’s 123 account certainly caught customers’ imaginations with its tiered cashback incentive on household bills and competitive interest rates for in-credit balances.
The UK’s biggest mutual pulled in double the amount of customers it lost – 22,771 through the door compared to 11,091 going the other way – and all this without a cashback offering.
Nationwide has targeted the UK’s legion of beleaguered savers with it FlexDirect account, which offers a headline-grabbing interest rate of 5% AER on balances of up to £2,500.
On the downside, this rate is only available for the first 12 months the account is open, at which point it drops to just 1%, meaning Nationwide’s doors will keep revolving for the foreseeable future.
…and the losers
The positive for NatWest was that it started 2014 with 11,482 customers switching to one of its current accounts. The big negative was that almost three times that amount, some 29,740, decided to jump ship.
A big reason for this is that its incentives just aren’t as eye-catching as those offered by other banks.
For instance, although its Select account offers 1% cashback on spending, this is only available at selected retailers, and while its Select Silver account offers 25% cashback on theatre, dance, opera and concert tickets, this account comes with a monthly fee of £10.
Barclays didn’t get off to the best of starts in 2014 – pulling in 10,947 customers while losing a whopping 27,414 – but then it still hasn’t pulled out the stops to offer any sort of incentive other than a £200 fee-free overdraft.
And even this will cost you at least £6 a month as the ‘fee-free’ overdraft only comes as part of a packaged account.
HSBC lost almost twice the number of customers it gained at the start of this year – 16,998 in compared to 32,417 out. And it’s no coincidence that has opted against incentivising customers with cashback offers or competitive in-credit interest rates.
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