Recently there have been some questions in the Facebook Group about bank accounts and which ones are the best ones. This is a *really* hard question to answer because like the world of personal finance and how you manage your money, your choice of bank account is personal!
So rather than say which ones I think are the best, I’ll share with you what I think you should look for in a good bank account and what sort of features are important!
Then the choice is yours….
So here goes!
Branchless or Branch?
There are so many challenger banks coming out at the moment, such as Starling bank and Monzo*, and it can be so tempting to make a complete switch and ditch the regular banks. However, be careful – not all of them have all the features of safety and security that you would expect in a bank account.
But having a branchless bank account can make life much easier if you don’t need to use a physical bank to do your transactions. The sign up process is much easier, and providing the customer service is good, much more convenient!
But you might still occasionally need to bank a cheque for example. How do you do it if your bank doesn’t have a branch? Well there are ways to do this and the online bank will be able to show you how (it might take a bit longer to process though).
Sometimes though, you just need a branch to walk into, so if you often need to bank coins from money jars, you might want to hold on to a tranditional service.
Lockable and other safety features
Some of the newer banks have some really nifty features like being able to “lock” your card if you’re worried about transactions you’ve spotted on it, or if you’ve lost it.
There are other safety features too that are well worth exploring – instant notifications of transactions and toggling chip and pin payments on and off are such examples. So look for banks that offer these safety features so you’ll always feel secure!
The last thing you want is your money to go “bye-bye” if the bank goes bust. So the Financial Services Compensation Scheme is a layer of protection for up to £85,000 held in your bank account. That’s great news!
But be careful….. not all of the banks are signed up to it, so check this out before you sign up.
APP Scam Code
This stands for the “Authorised Push Payment Scam Code” and is a voluntary code of conduct that banks sign up to – that means not all of them are signed up!!
If money is taken from your account illiegally by scammers, banks need to compensate you, but if YOU send money to a scammer willingly (obviously not knowing it was a scam at the time), if your bank isn’t signed up, they don’t have to refund you.
It’s worth checking if yours is on the list.
What does it cost?
If you’re going to use multiple bank accounts to manage your money pie budget and you need to open a few more, make sure that they are FREE. So many accounts now charge money for added extras, and not everything is useful (or cost effective), so make sure you are aware of fees that are included.
Easy to use apps
I can’t stand hard to use apps and apps that crash all the time, so pay attention to the reviews and comments when you are looking to join a bank. Are there lots of frustrated users who can’t use their app easily?
And what features does the app have? I love my Natwest account for the “emergency cash” function – it’s so easy to get hold of money when I forget my card at home.
Read the T&Cs
If you want to take advantage of switching offers, make sure you read the conditions of transfer. Some need you to be moving everything including your salary and direct debits. Others only need some direct debits. Make sure you’re not going to the trouble and hassle of switching in vain!
As with anything, seek out comparison sites and make sure you look at as many as possible. Not everything will suit you, but with the growing number of bank accounts, you’ll definitely find something that appeals to you!
If in doubt, use a traditional bank for your salary payments and major bills, and use challenger banks for smaller amounts of money. That way, if anything went drastically wrong (which hopefully wouldn’t happen as this industry is under A LOT of scrutiny), you wouldn’t be losing a lot of money.
Many people have made a complete switch over to challenger banks and that’s ok too, just make sure you’re happy that you’ve done your own research first.
Whatever you do, take your time! Don’t be pressured by any of the banks to take on something you don’t want or need. There are loads of options out there, but decide what works for you!
If you get it right, it could be a fabulous way to make some extra cash by switching! Try the money saving expert – he has a brilliant email service that lets you know all the latest offers and deals on all the things (not just bank account switch overs).
Until next time,
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