For the first time in my adult life, I switched my current account provider, and it was an interesting experience.
In the past I have thought about switching as I was generally not terribly pleased with my old bank HSBC. It had never done anything particularly wrong, however I used to find transactions took a long time to appear on online banking, and the balance of my account would therefore be deceiving.
But in truth, the standard switching offers out there that hover around the £100 mark never really felt like enough of a financial incentive to go through the perceived hassle.
However, this changed when I decided to take up a superb switching bonus offer from Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank. Late last year, it offered a whopping £250 to switch to it, so it seemed a no-brainer. Sadly, the deal is no longer available. See our Best bank accounts guide for the current top buys.
I opted for the bank’s ‘B Account’ as it purportedly came with a snazzy app that would make me forget my HSBC troubles in an instant.
And so, early one morning in Moneywise Towers, I jumped on to the Clydesdale website and began the switching process. I spent about 10 minutes filling in my personal details, but when I went to save the application, the website went into a horrifying tailspin. It wasn’t clear what had happened, but after a phone call to the operator (and later, an email from the bank) it was confirmed to me that due to such overwhelming demand, the site had crashed.
A spokesperson for Clydesdale explains: “We experienced unprecedented levels of demand when we launched the offer. The high level of interest meant it took some customers longer than usual to complete their applications.” In fact, the offer was such an outrageous success that Clydesdale ended it after only eight days.
Fortunately, I had made it far enough into the process to have had my application submitted, and after an unnerving five day wait, I was accepted!
I then received an email explaining to me what I had to do to be eligible for the £250 bonus. It came, apparently, with strings attached. I would need to:
- Log into the B app or internet banking in the first 62 days after switching.
- Ensure I had set up two direct debits from my new account within 62 days of switching.
- Credit my account with a minimum of £1,000 in the first 31 days after switching and a further £1,000 in the following 31 days.
Fortunately, these ‘strings’ weren’t in fact difficult hoops to jump through, as the Current Account Switching Service (CASS) would automatically switch my direct debits and salary payments to the new account. The CASS even guarantees you’re protected from missing payments on your credit card, assuming you have a direct debit that pays off at least the minimum amount each month.
On the day of the switch the balance of my old account was transferred to the new one without problem. But then Transport for London (TfL) took a payment from my old account after it had been emptied!
Obviously, this put me into a panic, so I used a different account - a Monzo pre-paid account I use for day-to-day spending - to pay off the £3 overdraft I owed to HSBC.
But the next day, the negative balance was still showing on my old account, so I sent another £3 thinking it hadn’t worked. Another 24 hours later, and it was still the same problem.
So, I stomped down to my nearest HSBC branch to find out what was going on.
The staff explained that the money had made it into the account, it just hadn’t reflected on the online banking yet (hello problem my old friend!). The HSBC employee explained that there was now no way for me to retrieve this money as my card had been deactivated. I was told a cheque for the amount I’m owed would be sent to me instead. Nearly three months later, and I am still waiting for that cheque to arrive.
The next problem I faced was the defaulting of all my payments that weren’t direct debits. Adobe, Netflix, and Spotify all pinged me emails and kicked me out of apps when my payments to them failed. These kinds of services don’t take a direct debit, instead taking payment from a debit card on a repeat basis – and these aren’t covered by the CASS. However, in fairness, this was easily resolved by giving these providers my new card details.
I also had trouble getting onto the non-mobile online banking site. I made the initial mistake of trying to log in via the Clydesdale website, when in fact I had registered under the Yorkshire brand (for no particular reason – there are no branches near me in London, although there is a Studio B in Kensington). This meant when I tried to log into online banking it wouldn’t let me access my account. After a quick phone call to customer service, this was pointed out to me and I was able to login on the right website.
And so now my new account is up and running. The snazzy banking app and its biometric security – I can use my fingerprint on my phone to unlock it instead of entering password information - works well. This is handy as the online banking (on a desktop computer) is quite fiddly and requires three layers of information to get through.
This month my £250 bonus arrived about a week before January payday, to my great relief! By my estimation it had taken 77 days from the point of application to receiving it.
So was it all worth it for £250? Absolutely. Would it have been worth it for me for £100? Possibly not.