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Warning over current account advertising gimmicks

Tahmina Mannan
Written By:
Tahmina Mannan

The current account market is flooded with products that offer very little return for those in credit, a report has found.

With new rules which will make it easier to switch from one provider to another coming into force on 16 September, the research warns customers to look beyond banks’ advertising gimmicks and rather look to the handful of accounts that actually offer high interest or rewards.

The report by market research firm Consumer Intelligence analysed the features of UK current accounts including in-credit, cashback, reward payments and switching gifts, to determine which bank accounts are the most financially beneficial for nine different customer profile groups, such as blue collar workers and young professionals.

The research focused on the three quarters of current account customers who remained in credit for the majority of the time, and excluded packaged accounts because of the ‘incalculable nature of the benefits offered’, and student accounts, as they are only available to a very limited section of the market.

It revealed that the Santander 123 Current Account and the Halifax Reward Current Account are the clear market leaders, depending on your financial situation.

David Black, banking specialist at Consumer Intelligence, said: “Our results highlight two clear leaders in the current account market for those who are usually in credit and can commit to depositing the minimum specified amount each month. The Santander 123 Current Account is the most financially beneficial account for those people who have a large bank balance and income and who are also responsible for paying household bills. The bigger your household bills and your current account credit balance (up to £20,000) then the more profitable this account will be for you in comparison to its competitors.

“At mid levels of income the 123 Current Account starts facing a real battle from the other leading current account, The Halifax Reward Current Account. Santander keeps its nose ahead over the long-term for those with mid-level incomes and bills, but the Halifax Reward Current Account becomes the clear leader for lower incomes and those people who aren’t responsible for paying their household bills.

“Overall, switching gifts and incentives can be tempting and there is sure to be a raft of new offers and advertising over the coming weeks, but if you are going to switch and then stick with one provider for a number of years, which most switchers probably will, then it makes sense to look at the long-term value of the account. Switching gifts tend to have more value for those who have smaller incomes and household bills, who can’t get so much value from their accounts through elements like in-credit interest or rewards.”