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BLOG: The bank account switching revolution

Adrian Kamellard
Written By:
Adrian Kamellard

Adrian Kamellard of the Payments Council explains the upcoming changes for dissatisfied current account customers.

If you read any personal finance newspaper or website, there are endless case studies of consumers and their experiences of poor service or general dissatisfaction.

Fortunately, since the advent of price comparison websites and consumer champions, disgruntled customers are now in a better position than ever to do something about it. Whether it’s your broadband, gas or car insurance, consumers have the opportunity and the means to switch at a convenient time to them and perhaps, more importantly, at a better price.

More choice and competition is welcome, but what about our banks? How easy is it for us to switch our bank accounts?

There was one statistic suggesting that it was more likely for a person to get divorced than it was to switch their current account. Whether this is true or not, it doesn’t mask the fact that there are existing hurdles for anyone considering switching banks.

However, come this September that will change.

Led by the Payments Council, a new, free-to-use Current Account Switch Service will be launched that will make switching from one bank or building society to another simpler, reliable and hassle-free. The new service will also be faster, with a switch taking seven working days as opposed to the 18 to 30 day timescale it currently takes.

From September, banks and building societies covering virtually 100% of the competitive current account market will offer the new service, and they will use the same Current Account Switch Guarantee Trustmark to indicate that you can switch to them using the new service.

So, if you decide you are unhappy with your current provider, how do you change and how easy is it?

Anybody who wants to switch simply has to contact a new bank or building society; open an account with them and then choose a switch date. The old account will still be operational up until the switch date, then the old account will be closed, any balance transferred across and the customer starts using the new account. It is the responsibility of the new bank to take care of moving payments going out (e.g. your Direct Debits and Standing Orders) and those coming in (e.g. your salary) from the old account to the new one, as well as providing new cards and a chequebook.

The switch will be completed in seven working days; and an additional benefit of the new service is that payments accidentally made to the old account will be automatically redirected to the new account for 13 months.

That’s how it works. It does not require the customer to do anything beyond this. It will give consumers more choice and a quicker resolution to their banking needs. All delivered in seven working days, guaranteed.

What we should also see on the back of this is more competition. New banks, both online and on the high street, competing against the traditional banks. Customers will not only have more choice, but hopefully there will be a lift in customer service too because come September if you aren’t happy, then you can simply switch.

Adrian Kamellard is chief executive of the Payments Council