August 2021’s bank account news & round-up

The latest news to help you get the most from your bank account.

Here’s my monthly update sharing changes for leading UK current accounts, as well as some of the relevant articles you might have missed on the blog.

August’s bank account update video

For a more detailed update, watch this video from my YouTube channel.

August current account news

Monzo survival worries

Challenger bank Monzo released its annual report last week. The big headline was that for the second year running there are heavy losses and concerns about whether it can survive.

The language in the report describes “material uncertainty” in the ability to carry on as a going concern. So should you worry?

Well first up, any money held in your Monzo account, including the pots, will be protected up to £85,000 as part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). And there’s no good reason to have anywhere where near that amount of cash there as you’ll be losing out on valuable interest available elsewhere (even if rates aren’t good, they’re better than with Monzo).

Of course, if they did fail, losing access to your account could cause problems even if you got the money back. But I would think it’s likely another bank would buy them out and keep it going so you’d be able to keep banking. Even so, I’d recommend getting at least one other current account in your name as backup. I say this for any bank, not just Monzo, and I’ve more details here.

The bank is also under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for possible breaches of anti-laundering rules. This could come with a pretty hefty fine – not good when profits are already a worry.

£140 HSBC switch bonus

The end of July and start of August saw the end of switching bonuses from HSBC, First Direct and Halifax – then just this week the return of an offer from HSBC.

This £140 bonus is the biggest cash bonus in a long, long time (possibly pre-pandemic), but it’s only available for a couple of weeks and you have to apply via Moneysupermarket or MoneySavingExpert.

This is the only cash bonus right now, though you can get vouchers from Virgin Money and Triodos, with the latter not needing you to switch.

I’m hoping we’ll see other offers soon. It’s been a while since there’s been one from Lloyds and Natwest so perhaps they’ll do something in the next few months.

More on the switching offer can be found in my guide to all the best bank offers.

Tesco to close all current accounts

If you’ve got a current account with Tesco Bank then you need to take action ASAP as they’ll be closed down in November.

Very few people actually use these as their main bank accounts – just 26,000 out of 213,000 – but that’s still a decent number.

Here’s more information on what you need to do.

Starling leads bank switches

In the latest quarterly bank switching figures, covering 1 January to 31 March 2021, challenger bank Starling has just pipped Virgin Money with the highest net gain (new accounts minus closed accounts) of customers.

This is only for people switching to and from accounts – there will no doubt be people opening up new accounts without using the Current Account Switch Service.

Only seven banks (Starling, Virgin Money, Monzo, Nationwide, Bank of Scotland and Triodos) made net gains in the quarter. The rest all lost more customers than they gained.

The biggest net losers were Santander, Natwest and TSB, while a huge 26,743 loss at HSBC (including First Direct) was offset by 23,892 new accounts opened.

Largest net gains

BankNet Gains
Starling Bank17,769
Virgin Money17,495
Monzo Bank7,744

Largest gains

BankGains
HSBC23,892
Virgin Money21,616
Starling Bank18,874

Largest net losses

BankNet Losses
Santander-10,965
Natwest-10,605
TSB-8,502

Largest losses

BankLosses
HSBC-26,743
Santander-16,869
Natwest-16,272

Andy’s podcast

Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice-weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

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