The dawn of the internet and online banking makes shopping around for a more better deal an easy task. If you're fed up with high overdraft charges, bad customer service or any technical problems you may already be considering looking elsewhere. We've detailed below some simple steps to help you choose the right account....
Assess the use of your existing current account
The best bank account for you will depend on your financial circumstances. That is to say; it's not necessarily the bank with the best interest rates which is the one to go for. We can break down types of useage into two broad categories; i) accounts which remain in credit each month, ii) accounts which make use of overdraft facilities (due to stretched finances etc), and therefore have a negative balance at times.
With this in mind you can then decide whether to look at bank accounts with high interest rates (for those in credit), or accounts with reduced overdraft charges (for those with a negative balance, or tendency to use the overdraft function)
Online or in branch?
Most high street banks now provide online banking services, however a number of institutions now operate solely online. Being able to go to a branch and get face-to-face service is a nicer experience, but this will limit you somewhat to banks that have a branch that's close and accessible to you. If you decide that online banking only suits your needs, then you may get a better deal than with a high street bank, as online firms have less overheads to run their business.
If you're looking for financial advice or plan to use more than just the standard banking service, it's likely that you will want to select a provider that has a good reputation for customer service. If this applies to you you can get an idea if how each bank measures up based on the experience of other customers. Simply run an internet search for 'bank customer score', to find a number of surveys that rank providers by their aggregate score for customer service. You're likely to find that banks with the best score don't necessarily have the best rates in terms of interest, but they should still be competitive compared to other providers.
Some banks charge a monthly fee for 'premium' accounts, then throw in freebies such as travel insurance, and breakdown cover. These 'packaged' accounts probably aren't your worthwhile unless you make full use of the benefits they offer. What's more, you may already have the freebies included elsewhere such as a credit card incentive or insurance policy .
Making the Switch
Once you've settled on your new provider it's time to switch across. Using the current account switching service offered by banks, puts an automated system in place which takes care of everything for you, including transferring existing funds, moving across direct debits and standing orders, and closing your old account on the agreed date. You can read more about this in our step-by-step guide How To Switch Your Bank Account