British banks profiting from secret loan hikes

Now that the taxpayer has bailed them out of a deep financial hole, Britain's banks are returning to more profitable times.

Business man with spoon in pot of money
  1. Banking
  2. Banks
  3. Bank profits
  4. Personal loans
  5. Mortgages
  6. Credit cards
  7. Borrowing
  8. Interest rates
  9. Personal finances
  10. Debt

Sadly, it may well be at our expense. Figures obtained by the Daily Mail have revealed that the big name banks are squeezing every last drop out of already struggling homeowners and borrowers in a bid to boost their profits.

But as the cost of borrowing continues to rise, those with the good sense (and finances) to save have seen interest rates cut to a historic low.

However, thanks to the base rate cut by the Bank of England, many of us are under the mistaken impression that borrowing is currently cheap.

Look a little closer and the figures reveal that the margin between the rates paid by the bank and the rates paid by consumers is not so attractive.

For example, financial analyst Citigroup found that the margin on mortgages for a five-year period ending in 2008 was between zero and one per cent. Last year it rose to three per cent.

It was a similar story where personal loans were concerned - the margin rising from just over two per cent to a sizeable six per cent this year.

And credit card margins have gone from just under eight per cent to nearly 12 per cent.

Which? money editor James Daley told the Mail: "We paid for the banks' failures once when we bailed them out and now they are getting a double hit by taking more of our cash.

"It would be less hard to swallow if we had seen some improvements in customer service and complaints handling. Our advice is to vote with your feet and go to one of the few banks that do respect their customers. First Direct and Co-operative consistently come out best in our reader surveys."

So will you be voting with your feet?