Account switching: challenger banks hot on the high street’s heels

29 November 2019

Over six million people have switched their current account since 2013. So is it time you changed banks?

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Nationwide, HSBC, NatWest and Monzo attracted the most current account switchers between April and July this year, according to the latest data from Bacs, which administers the Current Account Switch Service.

Nationwide was the clear winner with 26,466 current account customers joining.

One reason may be its FlexDirect account, which offers 5% interest on balances up to £2,500. This offer lasts for one year and when it ends the rate drops to 1%. Agreed overdrafts are free for the first year but you’ll need to pay in at least £1,000 a month.

HSBC, which includes figures from its subsidiaries First Direct and M&S Bank, had a net increase of 15,782 current account customers.

The HSBC Advance Account has a generous switching bonus of £175, but you must pay in a minimum of £1,750 to keep it open.*

It is also linked to a regular savings account, which pays an interest rate of 2.75%.

With the First Direct 1st Account you will get a £50 bonus if you switch. To qualify, you’ll need to transfer via the Current Account Switching Service, transfer your direct debits and deposit at least £1,000 in the first three months.

If you open an M&S Bank Current Account you will get a £100 M&S gift card plus an additional £80 after 12 months if you choose to switch.

NatWest had a total of 15,735 current account switchers between April and June, marking a reversal of fortune from last year. This is likely down to its switching bonus – £150 and 2% back on household bills. You have to pay in a minimum of £1,500 each month. If you want to take advantage of the switching bonus you will have to get in quick as the offer ends on 6 December.

Challenger banks are also proving to be increasingly popular with people looking to switch current accounts.

Monzo Bank had an increase of 13,453 people switching to its current account, while Starling Bank gained 6,686 new customers. Both banks offer the best rates for spending and cash withdrawals abroad, while Starling Bank offers 0.5% interest on current account balances.

Both also come with a slew of in-app third party financial products, although it is best to shop around before deciding to take advantage of them.

Halifax had the most customers leaving between April and June, with 12,058 people switching. It was followed by Barclays (10,988) and RBS (10,440).

Despite 8,110 customers leaving TSB, it offers the second highest paying current account, at 3%. You’ll need to pay in at least £500 a month, register for internet banking, and opt in for online bank statements and paperless correspondence to get this headline rate.

Featured product

Nationwide FlexDirect Current Account

This account comes with 5% interest on balances up to £2,500 and a free overdraft for the first year. Note, however, that the interest rate drops to just 1% after 12 months.

*HSBC's £175 switching bonus closed on 2 December 2019.

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