Once-apathetic British bank customers are now jilting their current account providers at record rates, according to data from payment processing provider Bacs. So far, more than 2.8 million people have taken up the option to change their bank accounts using a new, more rapid switching service implemented in 2013. This service cut the maximum waiting time from 30 working days to seven and helps customers avoid common switching problems, such as missed bill payments.
Roughly 310,000 customers swapped banks in the first quarter of 2016, representing a 20% increase from last year. Santander, Nationwide Building Society and Halifax were the most common choices for switchers using the new switching service, while Natwest/RBS bid farewell to 26,000 customers and Barclays to 25,000.
Of course, there are more than likely still plenty of people sitting in accounts that pay them less than they could be getting: "While the increase in figures is positive news, the number of switches is still comparatively small, given there are 65 million active current account holders in the UK," said Kevin Mountford, head of banking at MoneySuperMarket.
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So if you haven't switched provider in a while, it may be time to revisit your current account. The number of accounts on offer has risen from 120 in 2011 to 143 today, helped by new competitors joining the industry.
And with interest rates remaining extremely low, banks are increasingly using current accounts to tempt in new customers either by offering high interest rates on relatively small sums (5% on up to £2,000 from TSB, for example) or switching bonuses (First Direct and Halifax offer £100 to current account switchers right now).
Don't overpay onyour credit card
Yet many customers are not seeing thebenefit, reports Murray. For example,consider the 2% credit card chargeoften added to flight purchases, or the5% added to cinema tickets. "Theredoesn't seem to be anyone policingcredit card charges... asking themwhy they apply a 3% surcharge whenothers process cards transactions forfree," said James Daley of consumercampaign group Fairer Finance.
For the retailers these small sumscan add up to a lot. Before the changethe British Retail Consortium saidthat savings to British firms couldexceed £480m a year once pricecaps were implemented, so you cansee why some might be reluctantto pass the savings on. For the timebeing at least, these charges areonly investigated when a complaintis lodged (with the local tradingstandards office, in the first instance).Complaints are infrequent. But if a firmis overcharging you for your plastic, itshouldn't be so speak up.
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