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Starling, Monzo and Triodos top bank poll

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Challenger banks beat high street giants hands down in Which?’s current account survey.

Starling, Monzo and Triodos achieved customer scores of 85%, 83% and 83% respectively. Users ranked the brands highly for their customer service and mobile apps. The trio were followed by First Direct (82%), Revolut (78%) and Metro (77%).

Most of the traditional high street banks were found at the bottom of the table with Royal Bank of Scotland ranked the least popular bank with a score of 56%. HSBC scored 57% and TSB 59%. RBS has been one of the three lowest-ranked banks in the Which? survey every year since 2014.

High street banks typically had low ratings for service in branches, while getting mediocre scores across other categories too.

However, despite challenger banks’ popularity, Which? researchers found that four in 10 current account holders have been with the same bank for more than 20 years.

When Which? asked people what they like about their current accounts, most cited online banking facilities (47%), positive past experiences (34%) and mobile banking facilities (32%).

However, not everyone manages their finances using online banking via a smartphone. One in seven (13%) current account holders never use it and 5% use it less than once a month.

Of those who never or rarely use mobile banking, half (49%) said it is because they prefer to use online banking via a computer or tablet, about four in 10 (43%) do not feel the need to use it and three in 10 (31%) think it poses too much of a security risk.

Accessibility is also an issue, as one in five (18%) of those who never use mobile banking or use it less often than monthly lack the confidence to use mobile banking technology while 10% have phones that are not suitable for apps.

The proximity of a local branch is something a quarter (27%) of people in Which?’s survey said that they particularly like about their accounts. However, banks continue to make drastic cuts with 736 branches shutting their doors in 2021, and more than 220 are already scheduled to close in 2022.

If you can manage without branch access, Which?’s research shows you could get better service. Only four of the top 10 banks (Cumberland Building Society, Metro Bank, Nationwide and The Co-operative Bank) can be found on the high street.

Which? findings also suggest that opting for an ethical provider does not mean compromising on customer service.

Nine in 10 (89%) customers of Triodos, nearly two-thirds (64%) of customers of the Co-operative Bank and six in 10 (61%) of Smile customers said that their provider’s environmental record for ethical values was one of things they particularly like about their account.

As the cost of living soars, it’s more important than ever to get the most out of your current account. While many people are happy to stick with their current account for years, switching means you can benefit from a range of perks and cash bonuses.

Some accounts pay interest on your balance, others are linked to savings accounts with preferential rates, and some offer cashback on your purchases.

Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “While many current account holders stick with their banks over many years, we found leading challenger banks are ahead of the traditional high street names in terms of customer satisfaction.

“Our research shows a clear gap between the best and worst providers and this should encourage customers unhappy with their service to switch banks, as it’s never been easier.

“With the cost of living soaring, it’s vital to get the most out of your current account. Switching can bring great incentives such as cash bonuses, accounts paying interest on your balance and even cashback on your purchases.”