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Cash perks to tempt current account switchers disappearing

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Research reveals banks have cut back on cash perks used to attract new current account customers.

Cash perks are a popular way of incentivising people to switch bank, but analysis by data firm Moneyfacts reveals there is less cash on offer now compared to last year.

First Direct and Halifax have cut their offer from £125 to £100. Switchers to M&S Bank now get a gift card worth £50 rather than £100. And the Co-operative now offers £110 instead of £150.

Smile and Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank have removed their £150 upfront cash incentive entirely.

Cash incentives, of course, shouldn’t be the only motivator to switch current account.

These inducements can in fact start to look decidedly unattractive if customers regularly fall into their overdraft.

“Customers who choose [their account] rashly could easily be handing back their cash free perk in overdraft fees if they dip into the red for an extended period thanks to the inflated fees some of these accounts can charge,” said Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.

“As an example, the £100 upfront cash with Halifax looks appealing, but use the account badly and the monthly overdraft fee can make you owe them £80 in charges.” (See table).

Upfront cash is not the only vanishing current account perk.

Banks including Lloyds, Santander and TSB, have cut lucrative interest rates on current accounts over the last six months, dealing a blow to millions of account holders who relied on current account interest as rates on savings products tumbled to record lows.

The message to potential current account switchers is to consider moving soon, while the perks are still around.

“But tread carefully and choose an account that addresses all their financial requirements, otherwise that cash sweetener could easily turn sour,” said Springall.

Selection of providers with upfront switching cash incentives Switching cashback Cost of borrowing £300 for 15 days* Upfront cashback that remains after 12 months of charges for borrowing £300 for 15 days each month
first direct 1st Account £100 (was £125) £0.33 pm / £3.96 pa £96.04
Halifax Reward Current Account £100 (was £125) £15.00 pm / £180 pa -£80.00
HSBC Advance Bank Account £100 + £50 after 12 months £2.20 pm / £26.40 pa £123.60
M&S Bank Current Account £50 gift card

(was £100)

£1.31 pm / £15.72 pa £34.28
The Co-operative Bank Current Account £110 (was £150) £2.33 pm / £27.96 pa £82.04
Cashback may be dependent on minimum funding of the account or other requirements (direct debts etc.)
Source: 24.1.17


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