M&S current account finally arrives

16 May 2014

The long-awaited M&S current account, which has launched with no monthly fee and an interest-free £100 overdraft, has been labelled a "breath of fresh air" by banking analysts.

All accounts will receive an automatic overdraft facility of £500 with anything over £100 attracting a charge of 15.9% EAR - although no fees for unauthorised use apply.

"Putting it in hard cash terms if you make two debit card payments on the same day that put you into an unauthorised overdraft of £120 for three days, M&S Bank will charge you just 15 pence," explained Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms.co.uk.

"At the other end of the charging spectrum Lloyds Bank and TSB will both charge you £36.20, Norwich & Peterborough Building Society £49.18 and Nationwide Building Society (FlexAccount) £50.19 for the same short term oversight or indiscretion."

"Not only is this approach a breath of fresh air, but also the financial benefit for consumers is huge," Hagger said.

Bigger overdrafts also work out to be competitive. The annual cost of using a £600 overdraft seven days a month would be £18 with the M&S account, which the supermarket points out compares favourably to the £56.10 average across the market.

No interest is paid on in-credit balances but there is no ATM transaction fee for withdrawals abroad using the account's accompanying debit card. However, a non-sterling transaction fee of 2.75% applies.

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Hagger said: "The M&S Bank decision not to charge for ATM cash withdrawals overseas helps put it in the top five cheapest accounts to use abroad along with Norwich & Peterborough BS, Nationwide BS and fellow challengers Metro Bank and Post Office."

He added that the charge M&S has waived could easily set back customers of Lloyds Bank, TSB, Santander and Halifax nearly £100 while on a two-week family holiday.

Customers using the Current Account Switch Service – which guarantees to switch your account between providers in just seven working days - will get a £100 M&S giftcard for moving to the new account.

They will also earn one loyalty point for every pound of their debit card spending that take place with M&S in-store and online. For every 100 points, they will receive £1 in M&S vouchers each quarter.

M&S Bank currently has the longest opening hours of any high street bank.

Hagger concluded: "There are plenty of positive aspects to the M&S Bank account and if it can maintain and build on its reputation for good value and good customer service its share of the UK current account market, along with fellow challenger banks, could grow rapidly over the next few years."

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