A fifth of UK customers prefer to use in-branch services for day-to-day banking, according to research from Yorkshire Building Society.
And yet the number of banks and building societies on the high street continues to dwindle as online banking takes over.
As a result, services such as accessing savings accounts in-branch have become more difficult.
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New data from Moneyfacts reveals that 40% of easy-access savings accounts do not offer in-branch access - up from 33% five years ago. A decade ago, only 29% of accounts didn’t offer branch access.
Nearly 600 branches shut up shop in 2023, and banks have announced more closures for 2024 - Barclays has announced more than 50 branch closures and Lloyds and Halifax are to close a further 45 shop-fronts.
Whilst this affects your access to cash, it might not be such a bad thing for savers, as high-street banks are known to offer lower rates on savings accounts than challenger banks which may not have any branches.
“Those savers who prefer to manage their account in-branch and save their money with one of the biggest high-street banks will be sacrificing the interest they earn on their savings,” says Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.
High-street lenders offer around 1% to 3% interest on an easy-access savings account. Whereas if you opt for an online account, you can earn more than 5%.
Find out how much you can earn on an easy-access savings account, whether you access it online or in-branch.
Top easy-access savings accounts
If you have an easy-access savings account with one of the big high-street banks that offer branch access, the top rate is from Halifax, offering 4.12% AER.
But with Halifax set to close 22 branches between March and mid-August, it’s worth checking if one is shutting shop near you.
MoneyWeek has been tracking the best savings accounts and there is one smaller high-street bank listed in our best buy guide. Kent Reliance is offering 5.07% AER and it offers branch services.
But, it only has nine branches across the UK, so if branch access is important to you, it’s worth checking if you live near one before opening an account.
How can you use branch services?
If you have a savings account that offers in-person access, you’ll find your choices are fairly limited if your nearest branch closes.
But, if your current account provider closes its branch, you do have options.
In this case, you may be able to access your cash at the Post Office, which lets you deposit money into your bank account or cash in cheques. To find your nearest Post Office, you can use its branch finder.
The Post Office has also launched 31 new banking hubs across the country as an alternative for customers to use, in light of hundreds of bank closures.
Banking hubs offer personal banking services, including cash withdrawals, paying-in cash or cheques, business banking and bill payments.
You can check if there is a banking hub near you.
Springall advises, “consumers concerned about the loss of their local branches would be wise to speak to their provider to discuss other locations or consider moving their accounts to an alternative brand that can cater for their day-to-day banking needs.”
Vaishali graduated in journalism from Leeds University and she has experience working with the likes of Leicester Mercury, Inews and The Week. She also comes from a marketing background, where she has done copywriting and content creation for businesses.
Currently writing about all things personal finance, Vaishali is passionate about finding the best deals around, whether it's the best credit cards or the cheapest personal loans, as well as sharing top money hacks to help people save and better manage their money.
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