The best (and worst) online savings banks
Savers looking to open new accounts online have been warned there is a huge difference between the best and worst services offered by banks and building societies.
In reaction to this autumn’s banking crisis, thousands of savers turned to the internet to move their money around and benefit from the £50,000 deposit protection scheme. However, research suggests their experience of applying online was varied, depending on the provider in question.
Independent research firm Global Reviews has now named and shamed the best and worst savings banks for online service out of the nine major providers (see full list below). With 60% of people preferring to apply for accounts online, the findings reveal exactly which out of the nine major providers offers the best service in return for your cash.
Bertie Stevenson, director of Global Reviews, says: "The majority of customers choose accounts because of the interest rate offered by providers, but recent events have shown that customers also need to have confidence in the provider. Websites are often the first place that customers visit, so it is important that providers offer customers a good experience online, to reassure them of the quality of the brand."
The Best: When it comes to making electronic applications, online savings bank ING Direct was voted the best with a score of 63%. Halifax and Nationwide Building Society share second place both scoring 42%, while Alliance & Leicester came third with a score of 32%.
The Worst: Lloyds TSB came bottom of the bunch scoring a dismal 0% for online applications. It owes its position to the fact it does not allow online applications for its internet saver account unless you are an existing customer.
The Best: Lloyds TSB was voted the best for offering its customers online support (75%), closely followed by Barclays (65%).
The Worst: All the other providers received low scores for this category, as they were deemed inaccessible to potential customers.
Information available to potential customers
The Best: Barclays (63%) and Lloyds TSB scored 63% and 62% respectively in this category thanks to the quality of account information offered to prospective customers as well as how easy it was for customers to compare deals and make a decision.
The Worst: ING Direct received the lowest scores for this category with a score of just 35%.
Overall website utility
The Best: When it comes to the quality of the homepage, search and overall navigation, Nationwide was voted number one with a score of 80%. Halifax came a close second with 76%.
The Worst: All the providers received high scores in this category.
The Best: Lloyds TSB was deemed to offer the best content online, with the highest score of 52% for its online calculators and wizards to select the most appropriate account.
The Worst: All the other providers’ websites received low scores for this category, with Alliance & Leicester coming out bottom with 33%.
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The providers: Lloyds TSB, Barclays, Abbey, Halifax, Nationwide, HSBC, Natwest and ING Direct and Alliance & Leicester.
Global Review assessed the nine sites against more than 540 different criteria, including the information available to new customers, the quality of the application process, customer support, content and ease of use. The survey was carried out in September 2008.
This is a mutual organisation owned by its members and not by shareholders. These societies offer a range of financial services but have historically concentrated on taking deposits from savers and lending the money to borrowers as mortgages, hence the name. In the mid-1990s many societies “demutualised” and became banks. One academic study (Heffernan, 2003) found demutualised societies’ pricing on deposits and mortgages was more favourable to shareholders than to customers, with the remaining mutual building societies offering consistently better rates. In 1900, there were 2,286 building societies in the UK; in 2011, there are just 51.