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.
February’s bank account update videos
For a more detailed update, watch these videos from my YouTube channel.
February’s current account news
Latest bank switching deals
Some more changes since last month’s update, with a host of new offers.
There are now five major switching deals, up from just one at the start of the year.
The biggest of the bunch is from Santander, where there’s £200 available. This is available on the free Select account or the cashback accounts 123 and Edge. Full details here.
Matching the amount, but only on packed current accounts with fees of either £10 or £21 is a new offer from Lloyds. However, there’s a trick to avoid paying this for too long.
Another new deal is from TSB. This time you’ll get £125 for switching and another £70 for sticking about until next October and using your debit card. There’s also the chance to get an extra £20 to £50 if you apply via a cashback site. Full details here.
Co-operative Bank has also brought back its refer-a-friend switching deal, worth £125 each if you switch in via a friend’s recommendation. They’ll also get the same amount. Here’s how it works.
There’s also been a change to the First Direct offer. Though it’s still at £175, you can now get it if you’ve not had an HSBC current account since January 2020 – up from the previous threshold of 1 January 2019. All the details here.
Make £50 from sharing bank data
Polling site YouGov has a finance section that’ll pay you 500 points (worth £5) for each current account and credit card you link, and £1 for each savings account. You’ll be sharing the data in the same way you to for aggregator and budgeting apps.
You’ll need £50 to cash out, but if you don’t have enough in the first instance you can get the money again every nine months when you renew your connections.
From my experience and your feedback, it seems not every account you connect will register for the points. It might be it requires regular activity to trigger the points. All the details here.
Chase cashback to continue?
For those who opened a Chase account prior to March 2022, the year and a bit of 1% cashback will be ending on 28 February. There’s lots of speculation about whether it’ll continue or be replaced by something else.
Last week Chase themselves emailed about a change to their terms and conditions that would allow them to add interest to accounts without notice, while someone shared a screen grab shared in my Facebook group from Chase’s secret consumer panel getting feedback on an idea where the cashback would continue if you met certain conditions.
It’s too early to say what will actually happen, but I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything. What we do know is you can now get 3% AER interest on the linked savings accounts you can open within the app.
Hundreds of bank branches to close
Natwest, Barclays, TSB, Lloyds and Halifax have all announced further bank branch closures. In total almost 200 are slated to go this year, and we’re only in February. The links below will take you through which ones are going, and what your options are.
- 66 Natwest branch closures set for 2023
- Barclays to close 41 branches in 2023
- 40 more Halifax and Lloyds branches to close in 2023
Starling launches virtual cards
You can now create virtual cards in the Starling app which are connected to your different Spaces (separate sub-accounts within the app). You can control them in the same way you do your physical card, and you can add them to your mobile wallet or use the card details online.
This can be a great help for budgeting, allowing you to split your money out and spend from those designated funds. However, you can only spend up to £500 a day on each card.
You’re limited to five active virtual cards, though you can delete them and create new ones if you want.
Hard checks on Monzo or additional accounts
With no credit check for applications, it’s no wonder that Monzo and Starling are popular dummy accounts for people looking to switch an extra account for cash bonuses elsewhere. Likewise, some banks don’t hard search for additional accounts.
That’s the theory anyway. However a few people shared on the Facebook group that they’d been hard checked via Monzo because they couldn’t find a way not to apply for an overdraft, which is hard checked.
I got in touch with Monzo to check if things had changed, but they let me know it’s still a soft search only and there’s no requirement to ask for an overdraft. If you find yourself mid-application and struggling to avoid the overdraft section, there should be a “Cancel” tab in the top left of the screen.
New debit card switching issues
A handful of readers got in touch to say there were struggling to switch new dummy accounts with debit cards that expired in January 2028. It seems systems hadn’t caught up with the new year. It seems they got around this by simply putting in a different end date, or just waiting a while.
The lesson here is if you’re thinking of getting a dummy account for switching at a later date, just get it now rather than wait.
Avoid Charity Bank direct debits for switching
I’ve a popular article and video which looks at quick and cheap direct debits you can set up if you’re short of some for switching purposes.
One of those I suggested, Charity Bank, got in touch with me to say they’d seen a huge number of accounts set up just for this purpose and then closed, which was costing them a huge amount in time, money and resources.
As a result, they were concerned they’d need to stop offering the relevant savings accounts, which would obviously impact their core customers – charities.
So I’ve removed this reference from my article (sadly I can’t do this on the video), and I’d urge you to change any direct debits you set up just for the purpose of switching over to one of these alternatives.
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Club Lloyds to require £2,000 a month
I reported this alongside the recent Lloyds switch offer, but it’s worth noting that from 1 April 2023 you’ll need to pay in £2,000 a month to Club Lloyd accounts to avoid the £3 monthly fee.
However it doesn’t need to be in one go. So if you can’t stretch to this increased amount on a single standing order or transfer, you can simply move out £500 from the £1,500 you already pay in, and then pay that in again. Here’s my Club Lloyds review.
Nationwide to reduce card reader use
One of my frustrations with Nationwide’s app is that you needed to use a card reader to authorise most transactions. This really slowed things down, and required you to either carry the reader (and card) with you or wait until you were home.
However good news… in the app’s most recent update, the version history text reveals “We’re improving the way you send money and set up payments. You’ll notice you’ll start to need your card reader less going forward”.
Monese adds 0.3% card transfer fee
If you’ve been using Monese as a way to spend £500 on Halifax debit cards to earn £5 from the Halifax Reward account you’ll need to look elsewhere. There’s now a 0.3% charge to do this on the free Monese account, cutting into your profit. I’ve listed alternatives and more on the Halifax Reward hack here.
Halifax introduces Travel Ready
There’s a new feature you can add to a Halifax current account called Travel Ready. It allows you to spend abroad fee-free which sounds great. Except it costs £7 a week! There are much better options out there which don’t charge a fee for this feature.
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My top current accounts for February 2023
I always think it’s worth having more than one current account (find out why here) and here’s my run-down of the top accounts to have this month.
- Best account for everyday banking / app – Starling (review)
- Best account for everyday spending – Chase (review)
- Best account for bills – Santander 123 or Edge (review)
- Best account for rewards – Halifax Reward (review)
- Best account for savings interest – Barclays with Blue Rewards (review)
- Best account for 0% overdraft – Nationwide FlexDirect (12 months only) (review)