BLOG: ‘I finally switched bank account after 30 years’
After being with the same bank account provider since childhood, I finally decided to switch. Here’s why I made the move and my experience of the current account transfer process.
My children’s savings account which I had since the age of 10, was transferred to an adult current account as soon as I started university at the age of 18.
In total, I’d been with Santander (I’ll always know it as Abbey National) for 30 out of my 40 years.
I’d often read about banks offering new customers up to £200 cash when switching to them and other perks, but I always thought it would come with extra hassle. Why would banks give away free money?
I also thought it would be a huge manual task to update all payments like direct debits and standing orders, and as a full-time worker and mum-of-two, I didn’t know where I’d find the time.
As a long-term and loyal Santander customer, I knew my account details by heart which made online transactions really easy, and with a new account I’d have to learn a new set of numbers.
But the final push to move away after all these years was Santander’s consecutive rate and benefit cuts to its 1|2|3 current account – three last year alone.
And a new bank account was likely to mean I’d stop carrying out late night purchases in bed as I’d have to find my card to pay for goods and services rather than add details from memory!
Bye Santander, hello NatWest
Towards the end of last year, after doing some research on YourMoney.com, I decided upon NatWest’s Reward Account.
At the time of my application, it offered £100 cashback as well as retailer cashback deals similar to Santander. I’d also receive £4 a month for setting up two direct debits though there’s a £2 a month fee.
But new customers would also be able to open its Digital Regular Saver paying 3% gross on up to £1,000, a good rate in the current low rate environment.
I also learned I could earn an extra £1 a month for logging into the online banking app which was an added benefit I didn’t have with Santander.
I applied online for the NatWest Reward account on 29 October and received a confirmation email instantly. I was provided with a customer number on 1 November.
NatWest was in constant contact with me by email, with clear messaging and explanation of what it was doing. On 2 November I was told that all direct debits and standing orders were being sorted and that my Santander account would close on 9 November, and to make sure I had sorted all payments to avoid being in arrears.
I did call NatWest customer service a few times to find out why certain direct debits weren’t showing in my payment list but was told this was because the first payment had to be made first, before it showed up.
The NatWest app is user-friendly and intuitive. For example, I can easily view MyRewards in one place; there is a function to withdraw cash from ATM machines without using my card (a function I am yet to use as I rarely go out for obvious reasons – crazy to think I haven’t touched an ATM since March 2020).
I also like that I can flit between apps on my phone when organising payments so I don’t have to keep logging in to the banking app. The NatWest app also has a spending tracker, where you can limit spend on clothes, food, entertainment etc.
The spending tracker automatically takes money from your budget depending on the retailer. For example, all my payments to Boots were removed from my health and beauty budget which means I don’t have to manually enter amounts like I had to do previously when I used a separate spending tracker app.
The cash incentive of £100 will be paid to me by 27 January 2021, as long as I credit the account with £1,500, set-up two direct debits, and register for online banking by 31 December, which I did. It is a bit of time to wait but it’s still a free £100.
All in all, I found the current account switch process straight forward as I didn’t have to reset anything – it was all done for me.
I would recommend switching banks, especially if it offers a higher digital experience as it’s a must in these uncertain times when you’re limiting in-person transactions.
It was also refreshing that customer services offers a call back service, instead of being on hold for ages.
Win win. I don’t know why I was so hesitant previously – I certainly wish I’d made the move sooner.
Lorraine Francisco is marketing manager at AE3 Media’s YourMoney.com