Bank accounts can be useful in all sorts of ways, besides simply being a place for your employer to pay your wages or for your bills to come out of.
There are loads of different bank accounts in the UK, and while plenty are pretty mediocre, there are some that stand out by offering something a little different.
And it’s those special accounts - and providers - that are increasingly catching the eye, as people opt to ditch their dull accounts and move somewhere better.
New data has been published by the Current Account Switching Service revealing which banks people have been leaving and where they have been going instead over the first quarter of 2019. So let’s take a look at the banks people are moving to, and what it is about their bank accounts that may be enticing people over.
Nationwide Building Society
Top of the list isn’t actually a bank, but rather a building society. Nationwide is the largest mutual in the UK, and according to the latest figures gained a net total of 36,327 new current account customers in the final quarter of last year.
Perhaps the best account that Nationwide offers is the FlexDirect, which pays a whopping 5% interest on balances of up to £2,500 in the first 12 months that you have the account. That’s a more significant return than you’ll get from most savings accounts.
In order to qualify you will need to pay in £1,000 into the account each month.
The FlexDirect also offers an interest-free overdraft for the first year.
The other big gainer is HSBC, which brought in a net 31,389 new bank account customers over the quarter.
HSBC has a large range of bank accounts to choose from. For example, there’s the Advance Account, which is fee-free and offers the chance to open a regular saver alongside it, which pays 5% interest.
To qualify you need to pay in £1,750 a month though.
The big draw for HSBC though was that it used to pay a meaty switching bonus of £150 just for opening the account. This has now been increased to £175, making the bank even more enticing.
NatWest increased its overall number of bank account customers by just under 6,500 over the quarter, making it the third biggest gainer.
The Reward account is well worth a look, as it pays 2% in ‘rewards’ on seven types of household bills that you pay by direct debit. This is essentially a cashback deal, meaning you get 2% back on the money you pay on bills like your council tax, water, gas, electricity, mobile, broadband and paid-for TV.
On top of that you earn 1% back when you spend on your debit card with certain partner retailers.
There is a £2 monthly fee to bear in mind though.
How long does it take to change bank accounts?
The Current Account Switching Service ensures that when you opt to change bank accounts, the switch takes place within seven working days.
Since the service was introduced a few years ago, people have become more likely to move between providers. In the 12 months to the end of March 2019 around 921,000 switches took place.
The service means that the bank you are moving to will handle the switch, ensuring that all of your direct debits and other payments are transferred over seamlessly. You can actually choose a specific day for the switch to take place if you have a preference, and if anything goes wrong - such as a payment being missed - the providers who have signed up to the switch service guarantee to refund you any money you are charged as a result.