Britain’s most trusted financial companies revealed ...AS VOTED BY YOU

2 August 2019

We reveal the companies that have gone above and beyond to help you manage your money

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The Moneywise Customer Service Awards are based on the biggest survey of financial consumers in Britain.

Whether you are looking for a new current account or an insurance policy it’s vital to shop around to get the best deal for you. But when we scour the market for any financial service, the focus is so often on price: getting the best rate or the lowest quote possible.

However, it’s also important to know that the customer service is up to scratch and that you will be treated fairly. It is for this reason we launched the Moneywise Customer Service Awards.

Now in its 11th year, the awards highlight the most trusted providers of financial services in the UK based upon research from you, our readers, and this year an impressive 32,000 took part and shared their views on the companies they deal with.

We can now share the award winners with you.

Current accounts and banking

Most trusted current account provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: The Co-operative Bank

Taking the award for the third year in a row, our most trusted current account provider is once again First Direct. Survey respondents praised its round-the-clock customer service, its easy-to-use website and the fact that it pays 5% on current account holders’ regular savings plans. “I have been with most of the big banks and they don’t even come close to First Direct,” said one contented customer.

Another described their service as “faultless” and one said they “feel their money and information is as safe as it can be with First Direct”. For our runner-up, the Co-operative Bank, the big draw is its ethical approach, but it is its service that encourages customers to stay. “I originally joined for its ethical stance,” said one. “I wouldn’t change even if another bank offered similar or better ethical guarantees. The Co-operative Bank is excellent.”

Best current account provider for branch service

Winner:

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Highly commended: The Co-operative Bank

Last year’s runner-up, Nationwide Building Society, took the crown in this vital category this year. While many people now do the bulk of their banking online, it’s important that those who need or prefer to use a branch get a warm welcome. Access was very important to many of our readers, who were appreciative of the presence of a local branch.

One summed it up with “location, great service and rates”; another liked the fact that it is open late on Saturdays; while others appreciated the personal service. “They are friendly and helpful,” said another.

Coming in second place this year is the Co-operative Bank – although many respondents had selected the bank for its ethical stance, they had been wowed by the service they received too. “Very helpful and friendly service at all times,” said one. “I get on best with their staff,” said another.

Best current account provider for call centre service

Winner:

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Highly commended: The Co-operative Bank

If you have a problem with your bank – whether it’s a payment that didn’t go through when it should have, you’ve lost your card or suspect fraud – you need to be sure that you can pick up the phone and get the issue resolved. Taking the award for the second year in a row is First Direct. Without a branch network, its call centre staff are the chief representatives of the brand and they haven’t failed to impress Moneywise’s readers.

The bank has shunned automated answering systems and all calls are answered by UK-based members of staff. If that person can’t help, you are quickly transferred to someone who can.

“They offer excellent service with everything,” said one satisfied customer. “I mostly do online banking now but if there any problems, I know they can be sorted out by friendly, knowledgeable and professional people.” “Nothing is too much trouble,” said another.

Once again, The Co-operative Bank is runner-up. One reader commended them for how they handled a rogue transaction that left them without any funds in their account. “They were so helpful and I cannot praise them enough. They put money back into my account so I had money until it was all sorted out.”

Best Banking App

Winner:

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Highly commended: Barclays

While First Direct has made its name with its top-notch call centre service, this hasn’t been at the expense of digital banking, with our survey respondents commending it on its delivery in this area too.

“They have a good app to help me keep track of my account,” said one respondent. “Great customer service and mobile functionality,” said another. Users can not only check their balance and set up and amend payments, but they can also use Pay by Siri, which lets you set up payments with your voice; and Paym, which allows you to transfer money to other users of the system with just their phone number.

Our runner-up this year is Barclays. Its app allows customers to check their balance, pay people, change cash machine limits, view their PIN and freeze their card if they think they’ve lost it. One reader said that “the great banking app for the phone” was the primary reason they opened the account.

Savings

Best Provider for Children’s Savings

Winner:

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Highly commended: Santander

Every year, Moneywise celebrates excellence in financial education with the Moneywise Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Awards. However, with provision in schools patchy at best, the onus still falls to parents to teach their children about money. A great way to get children engaged is with a savings account.

Just like last year, the winner of this category is Nationwide. Its Future Saver pays 3% to children whose parents have an account with the building society or 2% to other customers. The focus is on building a savings pot with a reduction of the interest rate to 0.5% if more than one withdrawal is made each year.

One reader appreciated the effort made by staff with its younger customers. “You are made to feel important when you visit,” they remarked.

Santander was runner-up in this category. Its 123 Mini Current Account pays 3% on balances from £300 to £2,000.

Most trusted savings and Cash Isa provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: Coventry Building Society

Challenger bank Ford Money has made a big impression over a very short period of time and is this year named your most trusted savings and cash Isa provider. One very happy customer sums up their experience of the bank. “Great service, rates and security – Ford Money is excellent”.The bank currently offers a range of flexible and fixed rate savings and Isa accounts.

Runner-up this year is an awards regular, Coventry Building Society. The society’s easy-to-use website shows savers how much they will earn with their selected savings account and, via a tool powered by data supplier Moneyfacts, lets them compare Coventry deals with accounts across the market. “I have used the Coventry Building Society for many years and regard them as trustworthy, honest, straightforward and of good morality,” said one customer.

Best provider for regular savers

Winner:

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Highly commended: Nationwide Building Society

Regular saver accounts are offered to current account customers of some banks and pay a higher rate of interest to those who commit to paying money into a savings account every month for a year.

As per last year the winner is First Direct. Regular savers can pay in between £25 and £300 every month in return for a 5% interest rate. Even better: if you save less than £300 in any month you can make up it up in later months – giving a total allowance of £3,600.

Best savings provider for larger deposits

Winner:

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Highly commended: Marcus by Goldman Sachs

If you have a large amount of money in savings, you don’t want to miss out on the best possible savings rates. Our winner is last year’s runner-up, Ford Money. Formed out of the Ford Motor Company, the bank pays its advertised savings rates on balances up to £2 million.

“I found customer service was excellent when I changed my Isa from another provider to Ford Money and would highly recommend to friends and family,” said a happy customer.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs lets savers pay £100,000 into its online savings account, which pays 1.5% for the first 12 months.

Small business banking

Most trusted small business banking provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: Barclays

Small businesses play a vital role in the British economy and so it’s important that entrepreneurs’ endeavours are not hampered by an unsupportive bank. Our winner this year is Santander, 2018’s runner-up. Its 123 Business Current Account offers a discounted banking fee for start-ups and cash back worth up to £300 a year.

Barclays is runner-up and goes one step further with free banking for start-ups for a year.

Credit cards

Most trusted credit card provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: John Lewis

This year Santander knocks First Direct off the top spot and is named your most trusted credit card provider. For £3 a month the All in One credit card offers cashback of 0.5% on purchases and 0% on balance transfers for 26 months. It also charges no foreign transaction fees when you are spending overseas.

“My Santander credit card gives me excellent cash-back rewards. Also, I spend four to five months a year in Portugal and it gives me excellent GBP to Euro exchange rates – better than any other currency exchange mechanism I know about,” said one reader.

Coming in second place is John Lewis – customers love the reward scheme but there’s more to the card than cash back. “Excellent service when John Lewis Finance picked up fraudulent activity on my card. I was very impressed that they got in touch with me before authorisation,” said one satisfied customer.

Best credit card provider for rewards

Winner:

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Highly commended: American Express

If you put a lot of spending on your credit card and pay your bill every month, it’s worth getting rewarded for it. Our winner for an impressive six consecutive years is John Lewis. Cardholders earn vouchers to spend in store or in Waitrose.

One point is paid for every £1 spent in John Lewis, Waitrose, Kuoni or John Lewis Insurance or currency exchange. In other outlets one point is paid for every £2 spent and once users hit 500 points a £5 voucher is paid.

The card has proved a hit with John Lewis’s legion of fans. “I shop almost exclusively at John Lewis and Waitrose so I was very pleased to be offered one of the first Partnership Cards,” said one happy shopper. Another said: “I love my John Lewis credit card. I try to do all my spending on it so that we earn reward vouchers.”

American Express, coming in second place, is also a hit with its cardholders. “American Express has quality customer service,” said a reader. “I always use this card when making payment where I have any doubts over the vendor.”

Loans, mortages and peer-to-peer lending

Most trusted mortgage provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: Nationwide Building Society

Moving home is one of life’s most stressful events so the last thing you need is a difficult mortgage application. In addition to a good rate, you need tip-top customer service to ensure that your mortgage is one less thing to worry about. In this category there is only one contender.

Taking the award for an incredible 11 years in a row is the inimitable First Direct. “I have just recently remortgaged with First Direct again and the whole process has been smooth and easy to follow. I like that there is someone on the end of the phone who is based in the UK and is helpful. I trust this company to provide me with a great service.”

Last year’s runner-up, Nationwide, has held the title once again this year. “Nationwide were knowledgeable and helped us every step of the way,” said one happy customer.

Most trusted buy-to-let mortgage provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: Coventry Building Society

The buy-to-let sector has been hit with a raft of rules and regulations in recent years that have dented profits, making it crucial that borrowers find the best mortgage.

With the attractiveness of the sector reduced for many landlords it is important that they find a lender that does a good job and gives them the right assistance.

Taking top spot is Santander. The lender offers a range of mortgages up to 75% loan-to-value with the added bonus of paid legal fees or £250 cashback.

Runner-up is Coventry Building Society, with customers extremely impressed with the level of customer service and rates.

Most trusted loans provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: Zopa

When borrowing money, while your focus might be on getting the most competitive rates, it’s also vital you have confidence in your lender’s customer service. Keeping its crown from last year, our winner is once again First Direct. One reader said: “First Direct took me through all the options for the loan very responsibly and helped me realistically work out what I could afford to borrow and what I needed.”

Also just as last year, our runner-up is the peer-to-peer borrowing platform Zopa, where those in need of money are able to borrow from those with money to spare. “Zopa has been outstanding,” said one respondent in our survey. “Nothing is hidden and the ease of the application and seeing your account online is amazing. There doesn’t seem to be the faff that you get with banks and building societies.”

Best P2P platform for investors

Winner:

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Highly commended: RateSetter

Lending to other people via a peer-to-peer platform can be a great way to get a better return on your savings than with a deposit account. Your money isn’t protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, but that doesn’t seem to be holding back investors.

Lending Works is our winner for the third consecutive year. One reader shared their experience: “I read a review and the Lending Works team gave me a lot of confidence. It is my favourite P2P investment and the rate of return is fantastic.”

RateSetter was also our runner-up last year. The platform has a provision fund to protect investors from losses should a borrower default or miss a payment.

“My investments are protected, the rates of return are good and I can access my money quickly if I need to sell loans off,” said one happy customer.

Insurance

Most trusted health insurance provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: Benenden Health

The last thing you need when you have health problems is any more worries, so it is important that your insurer’s customer service cuts the mustard.

When you take out a policy you also need to be confident that your claim will be settled quickly and hassle free.

Taking the award for the fourth consecutive year is CS Healthcare. One happy customer said: “Confirmation of cover is provided almost instantly by email following a phone call. We are very satisfied indeed.”

Another said: “They provide a wide choice of cover, are good communicators and treat their customers with transparency and dignity.”

Taking second spot was Benenden Health, with respondents complimenting it on its excellent customer service.

Most trusted health insurance provider via employer

Winner:

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Highly commended: Vitality

Private medical insurance is a popular benefit and firms offering it need to know they have a provider that they can rely on to make sure employees are treated quickly when they are ill.

This year’s award goes to Benenden Health, with one customer saying: “Easy and quick with friendly staff who care. Level of cover is great for the price and getting help doesn’t affect how much you pay.”

Taking second spot is Vitality, which earned praise for its helpfulness and rewards.

Most trusted pet insurance provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: Lifetime Pet Cover

Taking out pet insurance helps you avoid costly vet bills as well as giving you peace of mind that your pet will get the best care should something happen.

This year’s winner is Bought By Many. One reader said: “Excellent insurer, prompt dealings with them and they are very clear on the coverage throughout the policy. No small print that confuses customers, just facts.”

Another customer said: “Amazing company to deal with. Their online claims process is so quick and simple to use. Everyone I have spoken with has been very helpful.”

Lifetime Pet Cover took the runner-up spot. Readers praised its straightforward claims process and value for money.

“Due to the continuing annual increases as our dog got older we have moved to Lifetime Pet Cover, which gives us the same cover as other policies but at a far cheaper rate,” said one.

Most trusted landlord insurance provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: AXA

Aviva is this year’s most trusted landlord insurance provider.

There is also no limit to the overall amount Aviva will insure your contents for and the firm covers the cost of your tenant’s accommodation or any rent you’re due if your home is damaged and can’t be lived in.

AXA took the runner-up spot with a policy that allows landlords to tailor their cover to their own requirements. Optional extras include protection for your property’s structure in the event of accidental damage as well as cover for the loss of rental income.

Most trusted life insurance provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: Scottish Widows

Life insurance is paid out as a lump sum to your dependants when you pass away, giving you peace of mind that your family’s financial needs will be covered after your death.

LV= took the top spot for the third year in a row for the most trusted life insurance provider. One reader said: “I was really impressed with the service. The staff were really helpful and made everything so much easier when my wife died.”

Another reader complimented LV= on the claims process, saying that it made a stressful time “so much easier”.

Our runner-up this year is Scottish Widows. One policy holder said it offered an excellent product with clear documentation.

Most trusted home insurance provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: NFU Mutual

When it comes to the protection of your home you need an insurer you can trust. The last thing you need if property has been burgled or damaged by fire is having to deal with an insurer that makes the claims process a chore.

CSIS is a not-for-profit organisation that provides insurance products to civil and public servants.

“The quality of customer service from CSIS is better than anywhere else, which is why I continue to use them,” said one customer about this year’s winner.

Other respondents commented on how policies were competitively priced and gave excellent value for money.

In second place was NFU Mutual. It was praised for pricing and customer service.

Most trusted travel insurance provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: Staysure

Getting insurance when you travel is essential and can save you thousands of pounds. If something goes wrong, then you need to know you can sort it out with minimum fuss.

CSIS also scooped the prize for most trusted travel insurance provider, impressing customers with its benefits.

One reader said: “I was impressed with its comprehensive cover and family rates. It takes the worry away when I go abroad with my children.”

Our runner-up this year is Staysure, with readers commenting on how it covered pre-existing medical conditions.

“After getting cancer, Staysure has given me the opportunity to indulge my love of travel again by quoting reasonable prices now I’m well,” said one happy customer.

Most trusted car insurance provider

Winner:

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Highly commended: NFU Mutual

CSIS rounded off a hat trick of wins by taking the top spot for most trusted car insurance provider.

Readers praised the company for its friendly customer service and value for money.

One survey respondent said: “The customer service is always approachable, friendly and highly professional. I was more than happy with the payout after somebody pranged me.”

In the runner-up spot was NFU Mutual.

Said one reader: “I was really happy with the way that they handled my claim compared to other companies, so I’ll definitely be renewing.”

Most trusted insurance comparison site

Winner:

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Highly commended: Comparethemarket

For the fifth year in a row TopCashback was the most trusted insurance comparison site. The site offers cash rewards to people who use it to switch providers.

Readers said they particularly liked the cashback they got when switching insurance providers.

“Using TopCashback is a great way of getting money back on things you were going to get anyway. I couldn’t recommend them more,” one reader said.

Our runner-up is Comparethemarket. Readers praised the site for its incentives and easy to understand quotes.

One user said: “I’m so glad that I used Comparethemarket. The website is easy to understand, and I managed to get my car insurance arranged within minutes.”

Overall winners for 2019

Most trusted P2P platform

Winner:

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Highly commended: Ratesetter

Peer-to-peer platforms bring borrowers in need of loans together with those investors who want to earn more than they can at banks.

The most trusted peer-to-peer platform for the second year running is Zopa.

Lenders were very impressed with its track record and that it is well established.

Borrowers like the fact that rates are better than those on offer from traditional lenders.

One respondent in our survey said: “Zopa has hugely better rates than a bank or building society and it has been an excellent investment for me so far.”

Ratesetter took second place, with readers saying that they liked the rates on offer and the easy to use online service.

“It offers competitive returns and I like the simplicity of the website,” said one satisfied customer.

Most trusted Insurer

Winner:

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Highly commended: CSIS

NFU Mutual was voted this year’s most trusted insurer, with readers praising its knowledgeable staff, good products and excellent rates.

“They are very clear on the coverage throughout the policy and the customer service is second to none,” said one customer. “There is no small print that confuses customers, just facts.”

Another customer said: “It was great speaking to a real person. My premiums have gone down this year, which is an added bonus.”

CSIS was highly commended, with readers complimenting the firm on its rates.

“It is lovely to deal with the staff at CSIS when I’m renewing and getting quotes. They are always pleasant and efficient,” said one satisfied customer.

Most trusted mainstream bank

Winner:

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Highly commended: M&S Bank

The Co-operative Bank was voted the most trusted mainstream bank. The bank actively supports organisations that make a positive contribution to the environment and caters for customers who might not qualify for accounts elsewhere.

Customers were also happy with its customer service and UK-based call centres.

One reader said: “They are friendly, helpful, efficient and they care about community and the environment. I have used them for over 20 years and they have excellent customer service.”

Another said: “We have banked with the Co-op for a long time and have always found staff to be helpful and supportive. Expert staff are always on hand and we also like its ethical stance.”

The runner-up was M&S Bank, which was praised for its excellent rates and benefits.

One survey respondent said: “I have banked with M&S for over five years. Whenever I have a query or problem it has always been dealt with quickly and courteously.”

MOST TRUSTED FINANCIAL PROVIDER

Winner:

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Highly commended: Nationwide Building Society

After winning six awards it is no surprise that First Direct managed to retain its crown as the most trusted financial provider.

From call centre service through to mortgages and mobile apps, First Direct showed that it sets the standards other banks hope to emulate.

“Simply the best bank I have ever dealt with. It’s really that simple. Honest, transparent, they answer phone calls when needed and provide what I would call an ‘old-fashioned service’ tailored to the customer, not themselves. It has what I regard as the Ronseal touch – does what it says on the tin,” said one customer.

Customers of the bank were especially happy with the quick response to calls and the friendly staff who go the extra mile.

Another customer said: “I started with them because they offered good rates and emergency help overseas when I was about to go travelling. I have stayed with them because they are the best bank I have ever dealt with in terms of communication and customer service. Their rates are fantastic as well.”

Runner-up is Nationwide Building Society, with customers praising its products and services.

“Good rates of interest, excellent service online, on phone and in branch. I have been with them for many years and I have always been extremely happy,” said one customer.

“I’ve had an account with Nationwide for more than 20 years and they’re reliable and get the job done, and I’ve never had an issue with them or any reason to change my account to another provider,” added another.

Savings provider

Although only a small building society, I highly rate and recommend the Family Building Society, based in Epsom. There service is excellent, staff friendly and great competitive interest rates.

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