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.
July’s bank account update videos
For a more detailed update, watch this video from my YouTube channel.
July’s current account news
Latest bank switching deals
*Update 11/7/23 – a new TSB offer has launched. More here*
There haven’t been any new offer since last month’s update, though I’ve written up details on how you can switch to Ulster Bank, and potentially get £200 from them even if you’ve had money from Natwest and / or RBS. More on this below.
The Club Lloyds offer of £150 is due to end in a few weeks on 17 July, while the HSBC deal finished at the start of the month.
Co-op’s refer-a-friend switch scheme is also still available. If you don’t know anyone with a Co-op account who can refer you, there’s a “pay it forward” thread in our Facebook group.
There’s still no news on the existing customer switch offer for First Direct that we reported was being trialed a few months ago.
Natwest Group £600 “triple crown” switch
I’ve shared in a previous update that it’s possible to get a £200 bank switch reward from both Natwest and RBS. Well you can also get it from the third bank in the Natwest Group: Ulster Bank. This is something Facebook group members are referring to as the triple crown.
The terms and conditions suggest this shouldn’t be possible. The wording on each offer reads: “You won’t be eligible for this offer if you (or in the case of a joint account, either account holder) have already taken advantage of a cash switcher offer from NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and/or Ulster Bank between 1st October 2017 and 13th February 2023.“
However, taken literally, if you were to only complete each switch after 13 February this year, that’s not a breach of the conditions.
And, technically, even if you had completed a switch within that window, it still works to get additional bonuses.
Be warned though. When it comes to the Ulster switch, there’s more effort and waiting required to get this account open compared to the other two. My full analysis takes you through what you need to do and when.
It’s worth caveating that if Natwest do see this as a breach of the rules they could decide to close your account or claim the money back.
Santander replaces the 123 with Edge Up
it’s been a while since a brand new current account has launched (last November with the Santander Edge) so I’m always excited when one comes along.
This time it was another Santander account, a boosted version of the Edge called the Edge Up. It promises increased cashback on bills and interest on larger balances. Sounds good right? Sadly as my review details, that’s unlikely to be worth the huge £5 monthly fee.
The bad news with this was it meant the longstanding 123 account has been closed to new customers. Though it wasn’t as valuable as the 123 Lite (ditched by the bank last year), it could still earn you some decent money back on your bills.
Both the 123 and 123 Lite will remain working for existing customers, and there’s nothing released by the bank to say that’ll change – for now at least.
Santander Edge on Quidco
If you are thinking of getting the Edge account, then make sure you apply via cashback site Quidco as there’s £25 on offer for going through them. Right now the Edge Up isn’t listed, but that could change.
A quick aside: there is obviously a risk that if you open up the account now and a Santander switch offer comes along that you’ll miss out. Though last time existing customers could get the offer, that’s not guaranteed next time – if there even is a next time.
Given that the cashback returns after fees on both these accounts aren’t that impressive, I’d personally wait and see. And if it does, combine it then with Quidco.
First Direct goes fee-free abroad
Fee-free spending abroad has been limited to digital banks, specialist credit cards and the odd special offer. But now First Direct has axed all spending and ATM charges when you use the debit card abroad.
Previously it would have cost 2% to take out cash, with a minimum of £1.75 each time, and added 2.75% to every purchase.
It’s good news, but my top pick is till Chase thanks to the 1% cashback on spending at home and abroad. Here’s my full guide to the top fee-free cards to use abroad.
Natwest and RBS close another 36 branches
Another month, another bank announced branches that will close this year. Once again it’s Natwest and RBS, with 36 to go in the autumn, adding to a cumulative total of 142 this year. Find out which ones are going and when here.
Natwest offers 3% back on holiday food & drink
If you have a Natwest current account you’ll be able to earn up to £100 back on holidays until 31 August 2023 when spending with your debit card.
However there are two problems. Most Natwest debit cards will charge a 2.75% fee for using it abroad, making it largely pointless to use (the Natwest Credit Card is the key exception that is fee-free).
Also, it’s limited to just spending abroad on food and drink, and only where food and drink are the “main focus of the business”. Natwest lists some examples, and most make sense. For example:
- Ice cream from the ice cream van- yes
- Ice cream at the water park- no
- Lunch from a cafe- yes
- Lunch from the petrol station- no
- Cocktail in a bar- yes
- Cocktails in the cinema- no
- Burger from a fast food restaurant- yes
- Pizza by the hotel pool- no
But one example of an exclusions is a bit odd
- Coffee from a bakery- no
Surely if food and drink are all covered, how would Natwest know what you bought at a bakery? They can’t. It’s also worth noting that hotel meals are excluded, so be careful to check whether where you’re eating is a separate business or part of the hotel itelf.
You’ll need to register for the offer before spending for it to pay out. You’ll also need to pay in the local currency.
Monzo.me works for Halifax Rewards
For those of you using my hack to get £5 back on up to three Halifax Reward current account by spending £500 on each one, there’s another option worth trying – Monzo.
If you go into the Payments tab, and select “Request money”, you can get a link for Monzo.me. I copied it and pasted it into my mobile browser. The page that opens gives you the option to pay via a debit card or Apple Pay (on an iPhone). So that should work in the same way as adding to Revolut does.
Though I’ve not tried this myself it should work. I’d suggest maybe putting a fiver on it to start and keeping an eye on the app to see if it tracks (this can take a few days). If it does, then you’ll know you can add the rest of the balance.
However watch out for limits. Though Monzo’s website mentions £100 per transaction, with monthly limits on top, I managed to send £250 from my Chase card via Apple Pay as a test in a single transaction.
Incidentally, here’s a reminder to put in your calendar when your Reward renews. If you miss the in-app message and don’t select what you want to receive and how you want to earn that reward, it’ll stop.
Chase added to more connections via open banking
Last month I shared that Chase is now part of open banking, meaning you can agree to share your information with other services in order to get functionality on things like budgeting and cashback apps that require this connection.
A couple of new ones worth highlighting. First up, you can add your Chase account to tracking apps Snoop (get a free Amazon £5 voucher for signing up here) and Emma now, along with Money Hub. It doesn’t appear to be working yet with MoneyDashboard.
Another one worth trying is Cheddar. This is a cashback app which will automatically track any spending with connected current accounts and add cashback if it’s at a participating retailer.
In fact Chase is the best account to link as you’ll be able to stack this cashback on top of Chase’s own 1% earnings.
However, the choice of shops and retailer partnered with Cheddar right now is tiny. There’s 1% at Trainline (it cheekily says 3% but that’s for new customers) and 1% at Just Eat. But not many more that you’d regularly use.
There are some big brands like Tesco, McDonalds and Uber offering 1% back, but you need to refer a friend to activate these. So don’t expect much money right now. But that could change, and if you’re connected now it reduces the chance of you missing out.
My top current accounts for July 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 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)