Confusion about value puts customers off switching banks
Consumers are put off switching current accounts because they cannot meaningfully compare the value offered by different accounts.
Some 55% of people find it impossible to determine the value of their current account, and only 14% believe there are large differences in the value offered by different accounts.
They are also worried about the difficulties of changing bank, according to market research for Tesco Bank.
Benny Higgins, Tesco Bank's chief executive, said: "Customers are telling us that more needs to be done to enable them to understand the true cost and value of their current account. Only then will customers be able to secure a fair return on their money, and avoid paying excessive overdraft charges."
In March 2015, the government launched the MiData initiative, partnering with Gocompare.com to create an app that provides personal guidance on the best bank account, based on their own habits.
Matt Sanders, money expert at Gocompare.com, said: "The MiData comparison tool means that customers can actually see which current accounts are best suited to their banking habits and financial circumstances, rather than being swayed by seemingly attractive switching incentives and marketing messages."
Customers can use the service by downloading their MiData current account data via their online banking screen, and then uploading this to the comparison tool at Gocompare.com/money/midata.
It is only available for customers of participating banks, which are currently: RBS, NatWest, Ulster Bank, Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Nationwide, Santander, HSBC, First Direct and Barclays.
The service then calculates what they'd have paid across a range of current accounts, factoring in things like overdraft usage, typical balances and spending abroad, and then in a few seconds shows the best value account, including a pounds and pence estimate for how much they'd save.
The research also found consumers are far less likely to switch current account than other financial products, with just 6% of people having switched in the last year, compared to 29% for car insurance.
The process of switching current account has become much easier following the introduction of new rules in October 2013. These ensure switching bank will take no more than a seven working days, and that direct debits and standing orders are automatically transferred to the new account.
An overdraft is an agreement with your bank that authorises you to withdraw more funds from your account than you have deposited in it. Many banks charge for this privilege either as a fixed fee or charge interest on the money overdrawn at a special high rate. Some banks charge a fee and interest. And other banks offer a free overdraft but impose very high charges for exceeding the agreed limit of your overdraft.
An account opened with a clearing bank (few building societies offer current accounts) that provides the ability to draw cash (usually via a debit card) or cheques from the account. Some pay fairly minimal rates of interest if the account is in credit. Most current accounts insist your monthly income (salary or pension) is paid directly in each month and they offer a number of optional services – such as overdrafts and charge cards – which are negotiable but will incur fees.