/ Recommend me a bank
I'm looking to switch banks and was wondering if anyone has any recommendations. Just want a basic account with no fancy stuff (it won't be used much, more of a "backup" account if anything). I'm currently with Halifax and Nationwide but Nationwide has been a continual torrent of turd so am looking to get as far away from them as possible.
Any recommendations or ones to avoid would be appreciated.
I can't praise first direct enough. Lovely people. Any problems just phone them.
Yes, the online reviews seem very good for those guys, they are currently the ones I'm considering the most.
Agreed. First Direct.
Santander provide my main account (and excellent service) but I’d just like to add a third for Monzo. Great if you travel abroad at all!
Agreed. They are perhaps bit "heavy" if all that's needed is basic account though.
Metro Bank is well worth looking into. Branches open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm, cards printed in the store if you need one quickly and free coin changing machines and electronic banking that even I can work!
Only downside is, if you do need to go into a branch, there's not that many yet but they're opening new ones all the time.
All of the traditional high street banks are the same. Avoid unless you want to be treated the same.
If you travel at all or ever make transactions in foreign currencies , get an account with Revolut. You get the interbank exchange rate with no added fees (Monday-Friday, a fee applies on weekends to protect them from fluctuations when the markets are closed which brings them approximately in line with the mastercard rates on weekends). Most people who ever travel abroad lose more in bad foreign currency rates/fees than they will make up for with any other features.
Starling and Monzo will give you the mastercard exchange rate. Better than most banks but still not good. Their apps are maybe slightly more extensive than Revolut's for UK use though.
If you don't care about foreign currency and it is just for occasional use, just go with whoever will give you the best introductory interest rate assuming you have the cash to make the most of it.
I’ve never had cause to complain with Halifax. We have our personal current accounts, joint account & savings with them and the customer service is spot on.
Some banks including First Direct* (HSBC) have switching bonuses which may be worth considering.
*£150 free stuff (formerly £125 cash)
+ £100 cash if you leave in 6 months.
I left first direct because I was fed up of their annoying log in procedures and so many passwords/phrases/PINs. I can't put my finger on what it was but it annoyed me so much I left. I've never had that problem with any other bank. TSB aside...
Info on switching bonuses here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/compare-best-bank-accounts/#bonus
when you have to call them, it rings and then a human answers the phone.
> I left first direct because I was fed up of their annoying log in procedures and so many passwords/phrases/PINs. I can't put my finger on what it was...
I can with Halifax. Fingerprint login!
First Direct. Excellent service, online banking app acts as code generator for main website so no silly device needed. Pay on at post office.
Other day I wanted a lot of cash out, quick call, voice recognition over the phone instead of password, and they upped the cash machine limit to let me take out £750.
I only used the mobile app and call centres, call centre was great. Lots of passwords but voice recognition reduced this. The app was fine if not the best. They score very highly for customer satisfaction (better than other banks). Also they have a free £250 overdraft and 5% regular saver. Anyway it's worth clearing up on these switching bonuses, I hope you got the £100 for leaving.
Natwest aren't great. Poor account opening process, no confirmation email to see that your application has been received which led to me filling it out again and getting mutiple credit searches. Call centre experience was Ok. Was once told one branch was too busy, sent to another branch across town which was too busy that sent me back to branch no.1 who then reluctantly offered to put me in a virtual queue which text me when I was next in line. A good idea but not sure why I was fobbed off twice in the first place. Frustrating.
Thanks all for your help, it seems in general that my initial thoughts were right and FirstDirect is the one to go for, although Mondo sounds quite interesting, I had previously never heard of it.
My only concern with FirstDirect was the £10 monthly fee in six months time, but that's avoidable, and by then maybe another banks offering a good incentive to switch.
Many other the other banks that offer bonuses to switch require 2 direct debits (of which I have none).
Anyway, thanks again for your advice, looks like First Direct will be getting a call today, so I can get the heck away from Nationwide.
I have to say though, my other bank (Halifax) has always been brilliant and I can't rate them enough.
Shame First Direct owned by HSBC, one of the world's least ethical banks! (do you like you savings being invested in South American drug cartels?)
We're with Triodos and, so far they've been great. You pay a £3 monthly fee but there are no hidden charges. Online is a wee bit clunky compared with RBS, but it works. App is simple, but limited functionality.
I have friends who speak highly about the Bank of Mum and Dad, sadly no branch near me.
> My only concern with FirstDirect was the £10 monthly fee in six months time, but that's avoidable, and by then maybe another banks offering a good incentive to switch.
> Many other the other banks that offer bonuses to switch require 2 direct debits (of which I have none).
Yeah First Direct doesn't require the DDs which is handy.
The £10 fee can be avoided by setting up a monthly standing order of £1000 into the account then another monthly standing order later sending the money back a day later. This is what I did and was never charged.
Monzo! The app is a dream, as soon as you spend something, you'll get a notification on your phone (assuming you have signal). I've just set up a pot (basically a mini savings account) that automatically rounds my purchases up to the nearest pound, and puts the extra into that pot. Took me about 5 seconds to do.
Monzo also are massively ahead of the curve when it comes to fraud and security - they spotted the Ticketmaster data breach within days, whereas other banks (and Ticketmaster themselves) only admitted to the breach months later (info here: https://monzo.com/blog/2018/06/28/ticketmaster-breach/ )
When you go abroad, you can withdraw £200 worth of cash per month with no charges, and purchasing using your card gives no charges either. Sending and receiving money from mates is super simple (no more asking the waiter to divide it into separate payments, you can split the bill through the app).
They're very open to suggestions and interact through their own hosted forums, allowing people to ask questions, make UX suggestions etc in an open environemnt. Simply put, they're brilliant.
They don't offer interest on your money though - however with rates as they are, and the pitiful amounts I manage to save, I can't say I've particularly missed the 74p I would usually get each year ;)
Frankie, start with Monzo. It will cost you nothing, all be done online and you'll be up and running almost instantly.
If you don't like it you can go to First Direct.
These App based banks seem light years ahead. I'm migrating all my banking to them. Whether you choose Monzo, Starling, Revolut or others doesn't matter much. They all offer services that, once used, you'll be surprised you went without.
Thanks, I've already put into motion the account with First Direct (did it this morning) and with dealing with them over the phone they seem pretty good, so am committed to them now, but will certainly look into, and consider Monzo for the future.
Shame First Direct owned by HSBC, one of the world's least ethical banks! (do you like you savings being invested in South American drug cartels?)
All the drivel written about bitcoin and money laundering - all the big banks are many orders of magnitude over crypto involved in dodgy financial and criminal enterprises.
Go fintech. Revolut or Monzo etc, Metro if you need high street for some reason. Only reason I dont close my high street account is that it drops your credit rating. HSBC high street are a monolith and seem to take the BT approach to stepping up to the plate of competition. There phone app has only just come up to be of any practical use and online is still tedious. Must be feeling the pain of the fintech start ups.
Ive used Santander for yonks. Their 123 occount is really good. I pay a small fee but get more back and the phone and online capabilities are really good. I have a small ISA and my mortgage plus CC with them too and everything can be seen really easily on the app.
To be honest I'd set up a Monzo as well - I have a Lloyds account and get paid into that, then transfer a set amount to my Monzo which I use for day to day purchases. By having the day to day stuff, you can set up sending warnings, it shows you a graph of how much you have spent vs your avergae month's spending (gives you a little 'you may need to spend a little less' warning if it looks like you'll need to top up again before the end of the month) and I still have the high street account with a credit card and ISA.
Admittedly, I may switch from Lloyds soon as they're very average.
You seem to have had First Direct mentioned quite a bit, and I can only add to that. First class customer service, normally through to a human within a couple of rings and all problems that I've had (which have been minimal) have been sorted out pretty much instantly.
The current account does not pay any interest on positive balances, but that's fine because I keep that down to the minimum. The regular saver account pays 5% with a monthly maximum £300 pay in limit,
I simply have never had a single problem with FD and cannot praise them enough,
I think the old "£100 if you transfer your account" has changed now. I'd still recommend it though.
I switched to Reliance Bank 3 years ago. Small, ethical, profits go to salvation army projects - highly recommend
I have been with HSBC for 30 years and have never had an issue with them. My father was with them and when he died they couldn't have been more helpful and supportive, unlike the halifax.
> Nationwide has been a continual torrent of turd so am looking to get as far away from them as possible.
Can you expand on that? I'm with Nationwide and very pleased with them.
What have they done to upset you?
Monzo or Starling if you like playing with new tech?
The first time was when I had my card scammed whilst abroad. I sussed it straight away but they didn't act until some funds had been lost, then they left me with no way (or advice) to access the funds and would only send a new card to my home address, which is bugger all use when you're travelling round the world for 2 years. Why not stop the card straight away as asked? And why then leave your customer stuck in a foreign currency with no access to their funds - luckily for me I had another account with a different bank so was OK.
Second time was when my wife tried to book a last minute flight to visit her friend in the states for an event out there. Nationwide decided out of the blue that this transaction was fraudulent (even though it wasn't) and blocked her account. They never even told her, the first she knew was from an email from airline saying transaction has been refused. She ended up missing out on the flights and switching banks. Why block the whole account? Why no contact? Surely the sensible thing would have been to delay or even stop the transaction but in either case contact my wife to find out if it is genuine or what's going on?
Other incidents involve sending out payments I've cancelled, and removing my overdraft, apparently because I never use it and thus haven't paid any fees on it
All in all, I'm sure all big banks are pretty much the same but with Nationwide I've never before seen such a high level of incompetence.
When there is no problems they were generally fine, but most of the problems I had with them could have either been avoided or easily sorted just by using a bit of common sense. In every case they failed.
Thus, the FirstDirect account is in progress, and I'll be glad when it's finalised.
It seems that Monzo is a common theme here too. Am already sorted with moving to FirstDirect but may look up Monzo anyway just to see more of what they're about. So far they sound a bit "techy" for me who often struggles just getting the phone turned on, but could be worth a look.
Being new they have few if any restrictions on e.g. minimum deposits, so you can open one (or the very similar Starling, but there's barely any point in trying both as they are so similar) you can just open one and have a play, depositing say 100 quid to spend for a bit just to see how it goes.
I like it but I am quite techie. It's not however difficult to use.
Re fraud, one great advantage of Monzo is that you get a notification on your phone every time an authorisation is attempted, and you can freeze the card with one tap in the app itself, no phoning up the fraud department and waiting in a queue needed. This of course helps both you and them - you can nip it in the bud quickly so they end up paying out less in fraudulent transaction refunds. Furthermore by default magstripe use is automatically disabled (i.e. any authorisations will be rejected unless the chip is used) and you have to turn it back on (for max 24 hours) if you want it, meaning a "skim" can't work.
> first direct.
> when you have to call them, it rings and then a human answers the phone.
a human from Monzo phoned me back when i had been an idiot, when they said they would, 15 mins after my call. I nearly fell off my chair.
> a human from Monzo phoned me back when i had been an idiot, when they said they would, 15 mins after my call. I nearly fell off my chair.
One of the advantages of moving away from call centres towards online self-service is that, if you're not a company that cost-cuts right to the bone, you can have a smaller number of very good, better paid staff to offer prompt, personal and timely resolution of problems rather than a huge number of minimum wage drones reading off scripts.
It's a business model that is very much my preference in the vast majority of customer service contexts, not just banking. Let me do the stuff I can do myself online, as that's more efficient for me and the company, but let there be someone there at the end of the phone (or online ticketing system) who actually has the time to read/listen to what I'm saying, the intelligence to understand the problem, and the authority to actually resolve it.
> Santander provide my main account (and excellent service) but I’d just like to add a third for Monzo. Great if you travel abroad at all!
Just had a look at Monzo's website. Yes, low FX fees for using your card abroad, but cash withdrawals limited to £200 per 30 days, after that 3% fee. That's a deal breaker, not comfortable if I couldn't access cash abroad (e.g. for a few days in a hut where card payements wont be an option).
yeo 200 quid (used to be all free) after that similar charges to nearly all other banks. worth factoring in if you need more than that regularly.
> Just had a look at Monzo's website. Yes, low FX fees for using your card abroad, but cash withdrawals limited to £200 per 30 days, after that 3% fee. That's a deal breaker, not comfortable if I couldn't access cash abroad (e.g. for a few days in a hut where card payements wont be an option).
You can access cash abroad, you just have to pay the fee!
FWIW, this approach was voted for by account holders. They presented the issue (people just using the cards for forex losing them a fortune) and three options. Very open and commendable.
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