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.
May’s bank account update videos
For a more detailed update, watch these videos from my YouTube channel.
May’s current account news
Latest bank switching deals
There has been one new offer launched since last month’s update, with HSBC finally returning for the first time since December last year. The offer is for £200, and you can get up to £40 more if you go via Quidco or TopCashback. l
Nationwide wins the switching battle
The latest bank switching stats are out, showing the biggest gains and losses for 2022. My key takeaways are (figures rounded):
- Nationwide gained 229,000 accounts via switches, losing 96,000 meaning a net gain of almost 133,000
- Along with Nationwide, only HSBC (35,000 net gains), Starling (33,000), Natwest (17,000), Monzo (12,000) and Triodos (1,200) made more customers than they lost via switches
- The big gains (more 55,000) via switching were Nationwide, HSBC, Natwest, Santander, Lloyds and Halifax
- The bank that lost the most from switching was HSBC (losing 152,00), followed by Santander (123,000) and Halifax (109,000)
- The largest net loss was at Barclays (69,000 switches out) and then TSB (46,000)
It shows how cash bonuses are the biggest driver for getting people to switch bank, with banks like Barclays really suffering with no switching incentive.
However, better banking still has a pull with Starling and Monzo attracting around 10,000 new switches.
Use your credit file to check when you last switched
A quick tip for those unsure if they qualify for switching deals based on previously having the account in question or received a switch bonus. Use your credit report.
You’ll be able to see when you opened and closed an account, and you can use that to guess (though not guarantee) when a switch was completed.
Personally, if you’re going to switch a lot, I suggest you write down when you took advantage of each offer so you can refer back more accurately.
Bank apps down for Halifax, Lloyds, TSB & Co-op
For many, Friday 28 April was payday. But for some Halifax, Lloyds and TSB customers you might have struggled to access your cash as all three banks experienced app downtime for around 4 hours starting around 7am.
Earlier in the month the Co-operative Bank app suffered on multiple occasions over multiple days.
It’s a good reminder that sticking to a single bank for all your cash and app for all your banking needs is not a good idea. The latest problems also suggest it’s wise to ensure you’re accounts at banks in different groups, since the Lloyds and Halifax apps are effectively the same.
Barclays now works on Google Pay
A big frustration for Barclays customers was being unable to add your card to Google Pay. The work around was to use a Curve card and add that to your digital wallet.
Well the good news is you can now add your debit card direct. There’s no news yet on when the same functionality will come along for Barclaycard credit cards.
Curve restricts business card use
Those of you using Curve to sort out business card payments after spending, and avoid carrying too many cards, well you’ll now have to pay a 1.5% fee after a monthly limit has been reached.
From June 10 2023, you can only spend the follow with business cards before the charge is applied:
- Curve (free): £100 limit
- Curve X: £500 limit
- Curve Black: £1,000 limit
- Curve Metal: £1,500 limit
It’s another nail in the Curve coffin for regular use, and it means I’m finally taking it out of my wallet. I’ll still have it on my digital wallet, along with my business debit card, but the only real use I can see for the free card now is a back up for when you go abroad.
Credit report hard checks are likely
I’ve spotted a few people post in the Facebook group that they were surprised to have a hard check on their credit report when opening a new account, even though they didn’t apply for an overdraft.
A quick reminder that the vast majority of current account applications will be subject to a hard search, regardless of whether you want an overdraft.
The only definite exceptions are Monzo, Starling, Chase and Kroo (though the first two will if you go for an overdraft). Sometimes getting an additional account with an existing bank won’t see a search appear on your file, but be prepared for it to happen.
More Barclays branches to close
Since the last update, even more Barclays branches are set to go, with a total of 98 closing or already closed in 2023.
Emma limits two just two free logins
If you’re using budgeting app Emma to monitor multiple current accounts (and credit card), you’ll now only be able to see two different banks on the free tier. Which makes it less useful for most people.
Last chance for £500 First Direct and HSBC overdraft boost
The increased 0% overdraft for a year from HSBC and First Direct was due to end on 31 March but you can now request it until 10 May 2023.
At the end of the 12 months it reverts to £250 with First Direct, and to a much lower £25 for HSBC. So make sure you reduce the amount you owe before this happens and the 39.9% interest charge is applied to any money still overdrawn.
Uncapped Chase cashback last chance
As reported in March, Chase has extended the 1% cashback for existing users, though with a £15 monthly cap and a monthly deposit requirement. For newbies who join after 9 May 2023 this £15 cap will also apply. So if you want to take advantage, this is your last chance. Here’s more.
My top current accounts for May 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)