When it comes to popularity contests, bankers aren’t going to be near the top of the list for many of us. A taxpayer-funded bailout in the recession still has us seething, and it feels like our reward in the years since has simply been dire interest on our savings and shocking service. Indeed, average rates on savings have plummeted by more than 4 per cent in the last decade, causing misery for those of us with money in the bank.
It’s pretty normal for many of us to just accept our fate, and begrudgingly stick with our bank in spite of such dismal customer experiences. After all, what else can we do?
The answer is actually quite simple: Switch!
A change is as good as a holiday
Believe it or not, banks are actually pretty desperate for business, and to lure customers in they are generally offering great perks and incentives for switching. The best bonuses out there are from the likes of First Direct and the Cooperative, who offer once-off amounts of £100 and £150 respectively for switching to them. Cooperative also offers a Rewards Scheme whereby you can make a further £5.50 a month long term. Halifax does something similar, albeit with an initial bonus of £100, rather than £150.
If you have a decent chunk of cash in the bank, you might be more swayed by interest rather than once-off bonuses. The Santander 123 account offers monthly interest of 3 per cent on balances up to £20,000, which stacks up pretty favourably against the rest. Just be wary of the £5 a month fee. Another good option is the Club Lloyds account which offers a rate of 4 per cent – provided you keep your balance between £4,000 and £5,000. Dip below £4,000, and the rate drops to 2 per cent.
You can shop around for a whole lot more, like good deals on cashback, free insurance and even 0 per cent offers for people in overdraft. It all depends on your situation, and what suits you best.
A better banking world for families
There are two important reasons why banking is slowly becoming a bit more favourable for us consumers. Firstly, the new Current Account Switching Service, which came into effect a few years ago, has made changing a whole lot easier, and simply requires you to give your new bank a handful of details. They then take care of the rest.
The other factor is the improved levels of competition as a result of challenger banks, which have shaken things up on the high street with superior service and better deals. How do they do this? By functioning entirely online! It means the days of going to the bank are long gone, and with a few taps of your mobile you can have yourself an account.
Making money work for you
Bringing up a family obviously carries a whole set of challenges, and unfortunately, money can be one of them. Budgeting, saving, being disciplined with spending – these are all the sacrifices we make, and is the hardest part of looking after household finances. Having done all this hard work though, it’s important to then let the pennies you’ve squirrelled away do the hard work for you.
So if your money is sitting around idly in a bank account you have contempt for, be sure to have a quick look around and survey your options. After all, if it can result in hundreds more pounds going into your family’s pocket each year, it’s surely worth putting a bit of time into it.