Moneywise Customer Service Awards 2018: The winners revealed

Published by Rachel Lacey on 05 June 2018.
Last updated on 08 June 2018

Moneywise Customer Service Awards 2018: The winners revealed

Getting a great deal on your financial services isn’t just about getting the cheapest deal or the best rate: you also need to be able to trust your provider and know that it will treat you fairly.

To see a full list of winners, highly commended and most trusted providers see the full guide

However, while it’s becoming increasingly easy to shop around for financial services and to compare deals, it’s far harder to get a feel for customer service.

Now celebrating its 10th year, the Moneywise Customer Service Awards is based on the biggest survey of financial consumers in Britain. Between December 2017 and March this year, some 40,000 Moneywise readers voted in our survey to share their views on the banks, insurance companies and peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders they use, providing us with an authoritative list of the UK’s most trustworthy financial firms, which we can now share with you.

Most trusted providers for 2018

Current accounts and banking

Most trusted current account provider

Winner: First Direct
Highly commended: Metro Bank

For the second year in a row, First Direct is your most trustworthy current account provider. The bank – which can be accessed online, over the phone and via its smart phone app, provides an attractive current account proposition and rewards customers with an impressive regular saver paying 5% on up to £300 a month. However, what has set it apart from its competition is the quality of its customer service.

One reader who completed our survey says: “First Direct is not like other banks. The level of professionalism is consistent and reassuring. The bank has treated me will total respect and no matter what time I call, or whoever I speak with, I receive the same wonderful service.”

Metro Bank is highly commended – its current account has no monthly charges and offers customers the added bonus of fee-free purchases and withdrawals across Europe. A reader praises it for it for its ability to combine “old fashioned customer service” with “up to date technology”.

Best current account provider for branch service

Winner: Metro Bank
Highly commended: Nationwide Building Society

Our winner in this category, Metro Bank, only opened its doors to the UK in 2010 but it has been impressing customers ever since. Unlike other banks which are closing branches across the UK, Metro Bank now has a wide presence across the South East. Branches are open seven days a week: from 8am until 8pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 5pm at weekends.

All customers are welcomed by friendly and knowledgeable staff: children can pay money into their own accounts with Metro Bank’s own ‘Magic Money Machines’ and have a lollipop, and there’s water and doggy biscuits for canine companions. If you’re caught short, there are even free customer toilets and changing facilities for babies.

A Moneywise reader sums it up: “Open seven days a week, British call centres, the only bank opening [new] branches, and I can take my dog.”

Best current account provider for call centre service

Winner: First Direct
Highly commended: Metro Bank

Taking its second prize of the year, First Direct continues to wow customers with its service. Without a branch network, the bank’s call centre is very much the face of the brand. When customers call First Direct they are put through to a person in the UK, who is usually able to handle your query, if not, you will be connected to somebody that can. Callers are never asked to ‘press 1’ or transferred to overseas call centres.

“I love being able to talk to someone directly – the staff are universally polite and helpful,” says one survey respondent. “They are fast and efficient on the phone and waiting times are lower than other banks,” enthuses another.

Demonstrating that its service isn’t solely branch driven, Metro Bank also takes runner-up position in this category. Survey respondents again like the fact that the bank has British call centres and that they can talk to advisers directly.

Best mobile banking app

Winner: Monzo
Highly commended: Metro Bank

Enjoying a meteoric rise, Monzo, makes its first appearance in the Moneywise Customer Service Awards, after only launching its current account in April 2017. Unlike other banks, Monzo, only operates via a smart phone app and as our research shows, it has got its proposition nailed. Customers can set spending targets for specific spending areas, such as groceries or eating out, get an easy overview of their account with details of where money is being spent, and notifications if money is being spent too fast.

One of Monzo’s 600,000 customers says: “Fantastic app, super user-friendly and makes managing my money fun.”

Highly commended is last year’s winner, Metro Bank. In addition to allowing users to manage their money on the move it includes other features, such as allowing you to block and unblock cards if they go missing or cancel them immediately.

Savings

Best provider for children’s savings

Winner: Nationwide
Highly commended: HSBC

Moneywise believes it’s vital to teach children about money and that is why we seek out the best teachers in the field in the Moneywise Personal Finance Teacher Competition. However, parents should get involved too and a great place to start is with a children’s savings account. Nationwide Building Society wins the award this year. Its Smart Junior Isa pays a competitive 3.25% to young savers and received the runner up best junior Cash Isa category in Moneywise’s Children’s Saving Awards 2018.

HSBC scoops up the runner-up prize. HSBC My Savings, which offers a cash card from age 11, was also highly commended in the youth account category in this year’s Moneywise’s Children’s Saving Awards . It pays 2.75% AER on balances up to £3,000.

Most trusted savings and Cash Isa provider

Winner: First Direct
Runner up: Coventry Building Society

Trust is an important part of selecting a savings account. While the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protects cash up to £85,000 in the event of a bank failing, it’s not a process anyone would want to go through. First Direct takes the prize this year for being the most trusted savings and Cash Isa provider. In addition to a range of easy-access, fixed-rate and Cash Isa accounts, it also rewards its current account customers with a market leading regular saver, paying 5% on up to £300 a month.

Coventry Building Society comes in second place, with service across its range of easy access, Cash Isa and fixed term accounts, impressing our voters.

Best provider for regular savers

Winner: First Direct
Highly Commended: Nationwide Building Society

More banks are offering regular saver accounts to customers. Paying a high rate of interest to savers that can put money away every month, they are a great reward for customer loyalty. Customers that bank with First Direct can earn 5% on savings of between £25 and £300 a month with interest paid after 12 months. One reader says First Direct is “currently offering a competitive regular savings rate, and once you have completed a year's savings, you can apply for another one at the same competitive rate”.

Nationwide is our runner-up. It pays 5% on up to £250 a month.

Best savings provider for large deposits

Winner: RCI Bank
Highly commended: Ford Money

If you have a large sum of money to save it can be frustrating to find that you could be excluded some of the market’s best deals.

RCI Bank launched in the UK in 2015. Already established in Europe, the bank was originally established by car maker Renault in 1974 as a means of helping motorists finance their cars. Today, the focus of RCI in the UK is saving and it offers an instant access account and a range of fixed term options – all paying interest on a maximum balance of £1 million. Its Freedom Account (instant access) pays 1.3% with rates on fixed term products reaching 2.31% for three years.

Also linked to motoring is our runner-up in this category, Ford Money. The savings provider pays interest on balances up to £2 million. Rates vary from 1.22% to 1.85% depending on the account selected.

Small business banking

Most trusted small business banking provider

Winner: HSBC
Highly commended: Santander

This award was introduced last year to honour those banks providing the best service to small businesses in Britain. Small businesses play a vital part in the British economy and the support of a good bank can often be core to their success. For the second year in a row, the award goes to HSBC. Voters praise its smart phone app and online banking. The bank incentivises start-ups with 18 months of free banking after which pricing is fixed for 12 months.

Also for the second consecutive year, Santander is runner up. “Santander’s faster payment service is excellent – very fast and reliable,” notes one reader.

Credit cards

Most trusted credit card provider

Winner: First Direct
Highly commended: John Lewis

Our readers love affair with First Direct continues as it retains its title of most trusted credit card provider. Again, it was the bank’s customer service that set it apart from the competition. “First Direct is the only credit card company I would deal with,” says one reader. Another praised how it protected its customers from fraud. “First Direct was very quick when somebody tried to use my details,” they say.

John Lewis is runner-up, again demonstrating that while great rates are important, it’s customer service that matters when things go wrong. “John Lewis provided sensible quick help when my card was misplaced,” says one reader.

Best credit card provider for rewards

Winner: John Lewis
Highly commended: American Express

If you pay off your credit card bill every month it is worth seeking out a card that rewards you for your spending. For the fifth year in a row the award goes to John Lewis. Users of its credit card earn vouchers that can be spent in the department store or in Waitrose. One point is paid for every pound spent in John Lewis, Waitrose, Kuoni and John Lewis Insurance and currency exchange. Elsewhere shoppers get one point for every £2 spent and a £5 voucher is paid once 500 points have been accrued. “The John Lewis voucher system is simple,” says one reader. “I shop at John Lewis and Waitrose regularly so the vouchers are handy.”

American Express came in second place. Although many users remain disappointed that many outlets don’t accept the card, the air miles remain a big draw for those occasions when it can be used.

Mortgages, loans and peer-to-peer lending

Most trusted mortgage provider

Winner: First Direct
Highly commended: Nationwide

Mortgage rates are important when you’re buying your home, but in the stress of moving good customer service is also vital. There was only one contender for this award with First Direct taking the award for an incredible 10 years in a row. Readers praised both the competitiveness of its rates, its flexibility and, of course, its customer service. “Rates are very competitive and the process for applying is very easy,” says one happy borrower.

Our runner-up is Nationwide Building Society. One survey respondent’s comment says it all: “Nationwide is an excellent company. The customer service I have received from their Altrincham, Cheshire branch has been outstanding. I recently updated my mortgage to extend the term and the whole thing was seamless and absolutely perfect.”

Most trusted buy to let provider

Winner: Virgin Money
Highly commended: Coventry Building Society

The process of applying for a mortgage on an investment property can often be complex. This means it’s all the more vital you can trust your mortgage lender to do a good job and provide you with the assistance you need. Our winner is Virgin Money. The lender offers loans up to 75% loan to value (LTV) and all deals include flexibility as standard, giving borrowers the option to overpay when they can.

Our runner-up is Coventry Building Society, last year’s winner, with survey respondents complimenting its customer friendly approach.

Most trusted loans provider

Winner: First Direct
Highly commended: Zopa

Understandably, most people focus on rates when choosing loan providers. However, you also want to be sure the money will land in your account as quickly as possible and that if you want to pay it off early you want it to be easy and hassle free. Our winner, First Direct, has the process down to a tee as this comment shows. “Amazing service. Within minutes I had been approved for the loan and in less than five minutes the money was in my account. It was a superb experience as it took into consideration the length of time I had been with the bank which shows that loyalty is rewarded. I love First Direct.”

Zopa – a peer-to-peer platform that matches people that need to take out a loan with those that have money to lend – is runner-up. Borrowers pay a competitive rate and lenders get a return that beats cash savings. “I couldn't recommend Zopa more highly. The rates, costs and fees have been transparent throughout, and the flexibility is perfect,” says a respondent in our survey.

Best P2P platform for investors

Winner: Lending Works
Highly commended: RateSetter

If you’re frustrated by low savings rates, lending via a peer-to-peer platform can be a great way to get a better return on your money. And although your cash is not protected by the FSCS it’s becoming an increasingly popular choice.

Taking the award for the second year in a row is Lending Works. In addition to an easy to use website, great rates and the provision of an innovative finance Isa, savers were particularly drawn to The Lending Shield, its insurance policy that provides protection against defaults. One very satisfied lender says in our survey: “The online platform was simple to use and when I did run into problems navigating the screens, getting help was easy and quickly sorted. I was impressed by the information online and the knowledge of the staff. The risks of P2P lending were communicated clearly and the rates of return were very attractive.”

Coming in second place is RateSetter and again savers like the peace of mind provided by its provision fund that protects against defaults. One reader praised it for its “great rates, fast service and transparency”.

Insurance

Most trusted health insurance provider

Winner: CS Healthcare
Highly commended: Benenden

Given that you or a member of your family is likely to be ill or injured when you make a claim on a health insurance policy, it’s vital your provider’s customer service is up to scratch. You need to be confident the claim will be paid quickly and hassle free.

Our winner is CS Healthcare which takes the award for the third consecutive year. One customer who responded to our survey sums up their experience: “I am always treated with respect by very friendly, knowledgeable staff who can make decisions immediately. This helps me to see a specialist quickly. Any problems are always sorted out quickly. I feel confident that I will be looked after during the whole process.”

Survey respondents were also full of praise for our runner-up, Benenden – in particular its service and value for money. One customer says: “The service has been absolutely five star, Benenden is so friendly and helpful and it has got us quick consultation and tests putting my mind at rest. I thoroughly recommend and actively encourage work colleagues and friends to join. It’s such a great service for such low premiums.”

Most trusted health insurance provider via employer

Winner: Simply Health
Highly commended: Bupa

Private medical insurance is a popular employee benefit and businesses that offer it need to know that they can rely on their provider to get their staff back on their feet when they are unwell or injured. This year the award goes to last year’s runner up, Simply Health, with one survey respondent commenting how disappointed they were when their employer switched them to a rival provider.

Our runner-up this year is Bupa. A customer described it as “the best going”.

Most trusted pet insurance provider

Winner: Lifetime Pet Cover
Highly commended: Petplan

Vet bills can be incredibly expensive – particularly if your beloved pet is seriously ill or injured. However, those costs can be avoided with pet insurance. As with any insurance policy the best deal is unlikely to be the cheapest and while cost will always be important, you need to be confident that if disaster strikes your claim will be paid.

This year’s winner is Lifetime Pet Cover, with many customers praising the fact it insures older pets. One respondent in our survey says: “Outstanding lifetime pet cover. Had three claims in the last 18 months. Always quick to pay out: Monday afternoon - my dog’s operation, Friday morning - money in my account. Just wow.”

Petplan is highly commended this year. A happy pet owner says: “My 12-year-old dog has been with Petplan since she was seven weeks old. In that time I have claimed several times and the service has been seamless. Petplan was excellent at helping me understand and seemed to genuinely care about my dog.”

Most trusted landlord insurance provider

Winner: Direct Line
Highly commended: Simply Business

For the second year in a row, the insurance provider landlords really trust is Direct Line. The policy provides flexible cover – giving landlords the ability to add further properties to their policy at reduced cost with one renewal date. In addition to buildings insurance and new for old contents cover, landlords get access to a legal helpline, a specialist claims handler, boiler cover and public liability cover.

Simply Business is runner-up – it’s policy offers a UK based call centre and enables landlords to tailor their policy to their own unique requirements. Options include providing alternative accommodation for tenants when disaster strikes and cover for lost rental income.

Most trusted life insurance provider

Winner: LV=
Highly commended: AIG Life

For the second year in a row and the fifth year in total, LV= is your most trusted life insurance provider. One survey respondent praises the way the company is run. “I like it because of its ethical way of doing business and looking after its staff,” while another praises the claims process: “Its way of working proved magnificent at the time of my husband's death 15 months ago.”

The runner-up this year is AIG Life. “Great service but also very clear product information and documentation,” says one contented policyholder.

Most trusted home insurance provider

Winner: NFU Mutual
Highly commended: LV=

Our winner for the second year in a row, NFU Mutual, is impressing customers where it matters most and that is paying claims. Whether you are recovering after a burglary or dealing with a fire or flood, that last thing you need is a battle with your insurance company. One customer says it offers a “first class claims service” and it has “always paid out without question on all my claims”.

LV= comes in second place and was praised for both its cost and service. “I am very pleased with LV= - been with it for many years for its excellent service and lower premium rates.”

Best provider for contents insurance

Winner: CSIS
Highly commended: Direct Line

CSIS provides a variety of insurance products to civil and public servants and is a not-for-profit organisation. “When I had to find a new insurer I compared many providers and chose CSIS. Over the past few years it has provided excellent service and a competitive price,” says one customer.

Coming in second place is Direct Line. “Direct Line was excellent with a claim and that made it far less stressful for us,” says one satisfied claimant.

Most trusted travel insurance provider

Winner: Staysure
Highly commended: Holidaysafe

Whether you or a member of your family needs hospital treatment on holiday or you’ve lost or had belongings stolen, travel insurance is worth its weight in gold. But in the midst of a disaster you need to know that your claim is going to be paid fast and quibble free. This comment from a reader highlights the value a good provider can add: “Staysure telephoned me a few times while we were in Spain and my husband was hospitalised in a private hospital to check that I was ok and whether I need anything, such as a hotel and so on. Due to this five-star service we have now taken our travel insurance with it for 2018.” Other respondents commented on how well Staysure has accommodated people with pre-existing medical conditions as well as older customers.

Moneywise readers also rate Holidaysafe, which was runner-up in 2017 too. “Holidaysafe has been really good,” says one reader in our survey. “Great premium but also fantastic service, I can’t fault it.”

Most trusted car insurance provider

Winner: CSIS
Highly commended: NFU Mutual

Proving that the not-for-profit model is working for customers, CSIS wins it second award. The insurer – which provides cover for civil and public servants – is rated the most trusted car insurance provider by Moneywise readers who praised its excellent value for money and human approach. “Its customer service on the phone is very friendly and helpful,” says one reader. “As well as comparing our current policy we took out a second car policy with it. We had a couple of queries and the customer service rep checked them out and had a bit of banter with us. It was so refreshing compared to some of the big service providers which are using huge call centres with time targets.”

NFU Mutual is runner-up this year – a provider readers trust across the board. “Outstanding insurance products with high level of customer service and care. Efficient claims handling and payouts - I have multiples policies with NFU,” says one customer.

Most trusted insurance comparison site

Winner: TopCashback
Highly commended: Compare The Market

Comparison websites make it easier to shop around and research products. Once again Moneywise readers have voted for TopCashback which takes the award for the fourth year in a row. The site offers cash rewards for people that use it to switch insurance providers.

“I eventually went for an offer found on TopCashback and was rewarded with a much cheaper insurance quote than expected and a lump of cashback paid into my account a month or two after purchasing the policy,” says one contented user.

Coming in second place are the cheeky meerkats. Commenting on Compare The Market, survey respondents say the site has the best incentives for customers – ranging for meerkat toys to two-for-one cinema tickets.

Overall winners for 2018

Most trusted P2P platform

Winner: Zopa
Highly commended: Lending Works

The peer-to-peer market is expanding rapidly, with numerous platforms, each offering a different proposition. However, the platform that our readers rate the highest is one of the longest standing: Zopa. Lenders rate its service and like the fact it was so well established. One reader says it has the “best rate, is really easy to understand and information was upfront, clear and concise”. Borrowers meanwhile liked the fact that it undercuts more traditional lenders. “An excellent loan provider. Zopa was even more competitive than my building society which I had been with for 11 years.”

Lending Works comes in second place. One lender sums it up with: “Very good rates for the risk involved, good website, easy to use,” while a borrower says: “so easy to apply and very, very competitive rates. Superb service – my motto is Lending Works, works.”.

Most trusted insurer

Winner: Direct Line
Highly commended: Aviva

This year, readers voted Direct Line the most trusted insurance company, with ability to offer good products, great value for money and top-notch customer service. One very grateful customer says: “Efficient and fast with excellent rates. It was the only company to insure my son for a holiday when he had Leukaemia aged six.” Another says: “Direct Line really seems to care about the customer.”

For the second year running, Aviva is highly commended. “Its customer service is second to none,” says a policyholder. Another says: “I believe it cares about customers and also has a strong corporate responsibility ethic. It has always done what it says it will and whilst I check each year, has always been the most competitively priced.”

Most trusted mainstream bank

Winner: Santander
Highly commended: HSBC

Once again, Santander retains its title of most trusted mainstream bank. Happy customers comment on its innovative 123 current account which offers cashback on certain expenses and enhanced savings rates as well as the quality of its branch service and online banking. However, what really sets it apart from its rivals is the care it takes with people’s money. One reader says: “Santander has always provided me with a reliable, trustworthy service. Its heightened security makes me feel reassured that my money is safe and that I am protected from fraud. It takes its customers’ needs seriously and does all that it can to ensure issues are resolved.”

Our runner up is HSBC, with survey respondents praising it for its excellent customer service and top-notch security. One says: “I've been a HSBC customer for over 10 years and I've never had a gripe. From increasing and decreasing overdraft allowances to low interest loans, it has always been understanding of my circumstances. The staff at my local branch have always done what they can for me, above and beyond.”

Most trusted overall

Winner: First Direct
Highly commended: Metro Bank

Given the number of awards it has won across the categories this year, it comes as no surprise that First Direct is your most trusted overall financial services provider. From current accounts to credit cards, savings and mortgages, the service provided by First Direct never fails to impress, not just because it’s efficient, reliable with its security nailed down, but because it’s friendly and personable too.

“When I decided to leave my job, it was a very hard time for me and someone in First Direct was the only person outside family and friends to say to me that they were sorry that things had got so bad that I had felt I had to leave. That made a big impression on me.” The fact that the bank has not been tarnished by scandal is also a big plus. “I hear the tales others tell about banks messing up their accounts and count myself lucky to be with First Direct,” says one customer.

Much loved newcomer, Metro Bank is runner-up. “Metro Bank continues to build my faith in banking,” says one customer, “I have a fantastic relationship with my business manager who has never let me down and I’ll recommend her and the bank to anyone,” adds another.

Leave a comment

Although they are not as

Although they are not as awful as More Than, am quite astonished that the thieves and liars at PetPlan were even commended. They must have got their friends and family to vote in droves - but then they did mislead people on social media, actively encouraging customers to vote for them. If you read the comments on their Facebook page you can see what customers really think.

So where did RBS end up on

So where did RBS end up on the list this time - bottom again?

I agree wholeheartly with all

I agree wholeheartly with all the comments regarding First Direct. I have been with them almost from day one when they started and I still get the same friendly service now that I did then. When I needed to go overdrawn over the £250 on one occasion I phoned the Bank and the assistant spent some time working out the cheapest way for me to do it. This is just one example.

Excellent information for me

Excellent information for me to pursue.

Thank you.