Battle of the banks
With the financial industry slowly getting back on its feet after a turbulent few years, the banks are desperate to get you back on board, even if that means poaching you from your existing current account provider with some tempting treats. With competition heating up, the rewards are getting more and more lavish – will they convince you to jump ship?
The latest offering is from Halifax, who are awarding new customers a generous £125 if they switch to one of their current accounts. This is an increase on their standard switch reward of £100 and is only in place until 22nd March. You can earn even more free money from Halifax by making sure you fulfil certain requirements on their checklist in your first year of banking with them. The checklist items aren’t difficult either – if you pay in £750 each month, keep your account in credit, and run at least two direct debits from your Halifax account, you’ve qualified. You’ll receive a £5 bonus each month of the year, giving you a bonus of £60. Add that to your £125, and you could be £185 better off for making that switch.
Halifax’s head of current accounts, Darren Tong, confirmed that your £125 would be in your new Halifax account within three days of you making the switch. He had no intention of making eligible customers pay monthly fees, or making them wait around until the full year had passed before paying the £125 bonus or £5 monthly reward. He reported that nearly 400,000 customers had joined them since the Current Account Switching Service had simplified the process back in September 2014. The process means that you can change bank or building society in less than a week, and all your automatic payments such as direct debits or standing orders would travel over to your new account from your old one.
Don’t think that Halifax are the only ones offering you a three figure reward to jump ship though. First Direct, who don’t have high street branches, offer £150 to switch. HSBC offer £120 and Marks and Spencer offer potential customers a £100 M&S gift card, with an additional £10 gift card every month your account is active. Taking a slightly different approach, Santander and Nationwide offer switchers a very appealing interest rate to wave goodbye to their existing bank and come on board.
However, as always, it’s important not to get carried away with all the advertising hype and always do your own research. Financial research company Moneycomms remind customers that while deals like the Halifax’s do offer something very tempting, you only have to slip up once and you’re not quite as well off as you’d hoped. With Halifax, a single day of being overdrawn means no £5 bonus that month, and there’s a daily overdraft penalty of £1. It’s important to do your homework, and make sure that every feature of the account is one which will work for you and your lifestyle before you make the decision to move.