The best and worst current account providers for customer service

Currents accounts are central to most people's financial lives, allowing us to do everything from set up a direct debit to pay the gas bill to accessing the readies to splash out on a treat. More than 11,000 people voted in the category, with online specialists and smaller banks proving more trusted than the big banks. 


Current accounts are an important part of our everyday finances. Because of this breadth of service, being able to trust your provider is essential. This year's winner is Smile, scoring highly for trustworthiness and picking up the title for the second year running.

Customers praised the bank for its friendly and professional customer service; its UK call centres, well-designed website and secure messaging service and its ethical policy. 

Just how much its customers trust it was shown by their views on how Smile deals with problems and complaints. One customer summed it up by saying: "I almost never have problems with Smile and when I do they are fixed properly and quickly."


Online banking
is incredibly convenient, allowing you to do everything from check your balance to transfer money to another person. But while the early adopters were happy to put up with clunky systems and limited usability, today's internet savvy public wants reliability and top-notch functionality. 

Smile is top for customer service this year, steaming up from last year's shortlist to take the title from its parent company The Co-operative Bank. Unsurprisingly, it received plenty of compliments. One customer describes Smile as "consistently good", and praises its UK call centres and ethical policy. Another likes that Smile doesn't send out any junk mail while another current accountholder likes the fact they can contact Smile online and get a quick response.


Call centres are a well-established part of the way service is delivered today but while some are good, others can be the cause of endless frustration. Being left on hold; speaking to someone who is unable to deviate from a script; or being passed between staff are common customer grievances.

Getting call centre service right is therefore important and this year First Direct is top, with a clear margin over its nearest rivals. One customer summed up all the frustrations with other call centres by saying of First Direct: "Human beings answer the phone 24/7 and solve your problems. Simple."Customers particularly like the use of UK-based call centres and the 'can do' attitude of the staff, describing them as polite, efficient, quick and reliable.


While more and more of us are banking online, branches remain an important part of many people's banking requirements. Being able to pop into a branch to pay in cheques or arrange a banker's draft can make our finances so much easier to manage.

In first place this year for branch service is the Co-operative Bank. Customers praised its branch service for a number of reasons, including the helpfulness and friendliness of staff; the size of the branch network; and the fact there are no long queues. The nature of the Co-operative Bank's service offered by staff  is highlighted by one customer who said: "They're always friendly. We can get an appointment with our adviser every time and he remembers us. Lovely personal service."

The bank also recognises that it needs opening hours that reflect its customers' busy lives, so its branches are open from 9.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday with some of them also open on Saturdays too.


After picking up this title last year, Santander once again can claim the dubious honour of worst provider for current accounts. The bank scored poorly for its call centre, online and branch service. "It doesn't listen,"said one customer while another said they didn't think the bank was interested in its customers. "Once it has your business it's not interested anymore. It never includes me in its latest offers," they said.


Read: Why is Santander's service so poor?

Santander says it's keen to change this though. Its director of service quality, Steve Williams says the bank has recruited around 1,000 new customer service roles in branches and call centres and promises "it will do more."

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Hi Im about to open a current account with Santander, which offers £100 free after 3 months when you have joined them, xfer of all current accounts to them and the minimum amount to be received in the account is £1000 per month and you are paid interest on the o/s balance per month.

Has anyone open one of these accounts and if so any good or any advice before opening thee account. The offer ends at the end of June 2011.


do it get your £100 and move if you are not happy worth £100

For the trouble they go on to cause, with failed transactions, inconsistent credit card service, the most useless online service ever - that's plagued with bugs and error messages, throw in gormless customer reps, and inefficiently run local branches, not 1K would make me go back to them. I've never broken a sweat so many times in a row over one company. They are no where near correcting their ways, my relatives are desperate to breakaway but their busy jobs keep them from doing so. Instead their forced to give up their lunch breaks every other day for any transaction that goes on their debit/credit cards only to be greeted by unhelpful staff who can't even justify why the call-centre send their customers into the branches when the staff clearly admit there's nothing they can do. USELESS. [end rant]

Santander 5% current account is good if you can max it to 2.5k then you get about £7.80 per month interest . I also opened a Halifax Reward Account which is similar but with the Halifax you put 1k in per month and you get £5.00 and simply bounce the 1k around, but leave 4-5 days between standing orders so they clear. When year is up for Santander you have to close the account and open a new one , new account number , paperwork etc and if they say you can't either choose another branch as there is little consistancy with Santander or lie low for about 6 weeks then you will become a "NEW CUSTOMER" Santander have linked products for their account holders, recently a 5% Reg. Saver which runs for a year and you can pay £250 max into that per month , so thats another idea.

I think you ought to do more research on NationWide. It is stable in its attitude, but its savings are poor rates and more and more is taken away as the months go by. The internet banking is a good service - but the monetary value of what is on offer is consistently poor value. ISA at 3.10 not bad, but overtaken now.

"promises "it will do more." -that's not going to be very difficult, is it, with the dreadful reputation it has at the moment? As long as it doesn't do 'more worse'.

My son was talked into changing his standard Halifax current account for a 'reward' account. They charge huge amounts when he goes over his meagre £100 overdraft (£5 per day) and charge him £15 a month for having the account. What I don't understand is that he only pays in about £200 a month and this account is supposed to offer a £5 a month 'reward' for paying in £1000 a month. A letter is being composed !!!!!

Having still not managed to close all my Santander accounts after being shafted for charges (did you know they charge £25 for every single DD received while you are overdrawn?), they are so inefficient its unbelievable. If you take their £100 bribe and actually use the account, just one minor slip up will have them taking that and more from you sooner or later. Dont give yourself such hassle, avoid like the plague!

I wanted to move  my Santander    Isa to new one with Santander
as the bonus had stopped. I bank on line but I would have to go into branch to do this . Why? Because they wanted to try and sell me things I did not need or want.