M&S unveils Premium Current Account

M&SM&S has revealed details of its first bank account, the Premium Current Account. It won't be for everyone...

M&S Money has confirmed details of its Premium Current Account.
M&S is due to open its first bank branch this month, though the account will not be officially launched until October.

What's most interesting is that the account is a packaged current account, carrying with it a monthly fee. M&S has confirmed that after speaking to its customers, the feedback suggested a packaged current account was what they were looking for.
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The M&S Premium Current Account
So what do you get with the M&S Premium Current Account?

In return for a monthly fee of £20, the account gives you:
  • Worldwide multi-trip family travel insurance, including winter sports
  • More than £500 worth of annual benefits, including M&S vouchers, hot drinks vouchers for M&S Café, a birthday gift and seasonal treats four times a year
  • 12 vouchers for 20% off M&S shopping in the first year
  • Loyalty points on debit card purchases made at M&S
  • £500 overdraft, with the first £100 interest-free
  • No charges for ATM use abroad
  • Exclusive access to a regular savings account paying 6%
There is also a version without the insurance included which will set you back £15 a month.

Clearly, the M&S Premium Current Account is going to appeal to those who do a lot of travelling, due to the insurance and absence of charges for overseas use. There is also a nice focus on loyalty, with the vouchers and reward points.

However, the account is REALLY expensive. You'll be shelling out £240 a year for the M&S Premium Current Account – a vast amount for a bank account. Obviously, if you shop in M&S a lot and are likely to make use of all of the benefits of the account, that may not seem such a bad deal. But it's certainly not a mainstream option.

The pros and cons of packaged current accounts
Packaged current accounts offer the holders a series of additional benefits with their account, in exchange for an annual fee.

It can be a little tricky to compare them, as everyone is different – the deals offered on one account may represent cracking value for money for me as I am likely to make use of all of the extra features. But that doesn't mean that the account is right for you.

That's one of the reasons that the FSA is investigating the sector, as there are concerns they may have been mis-sold. Check out The new bank mis-selling scandal for more.

One exception to the rule is the Barclays Bank Account. The account lets you add the exact extra features that you actually want, so you don't pay for anything you don't need. For more, read build your own packaged current account.

Do you need to pay for your current account?
However, there are plenty of current accounts that offer you a decent package, without charging you a monthly fee for the privilege.

For example, the Nationwide FlexAccount is a free account and offers free European travel insurance, while the Co-operative Current Account Plus offers a £200 fee-free overdraft.

And if the only thing you are worried about is a decent level of customer service, there's the First Direct 1st Account which is free so long as you pay in £1,500 a month or have another First Direct product.

What do you think? Does the Premium Current Account appeal to you? Are you disappointed M&S will not be offering a more mainstream current account? Would you ever pay for a current account? Let us know what you think in the comment box below.

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M&S unveils Premium Current Account

Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.

To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.

At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.

It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.

With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.

No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.

Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.

Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.

While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.

Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.

However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
To avoid paying over the odds, it is also worth checking the price per kilo to ensure that larger 'economy' packs really are cheaper than the smaller versions.

Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.

However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.

Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.

Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.
Before signing up, it is therefore essential to check that you will make use of enough of the benefits, and that you cannot get them for less elsewhere.

Overseas money transfers or travel money purchases attract the same high rate of interest as credit card cash withdrawals.

Worse still, most credit cards – and debit cards – also charge you a foreign loading fee if you use them to make purchases while abroad.
You can, however, avoid these charges by using a Saga Platinum or Nationwide Building Society credit card.

Numbers starting 0871 cost 10p or more from a landline, while those starting 09 can cost more than £1 a minute from a mobile phone.

And the operators of these high-cost phone lines, some of which are banks, often get a cut of the call charges.
Most 09 numbers are linked to scams and should therefore be avoided at all costs, while 0871 numbers can often be bypassed by searching for an alternative local rate numbers on the saynoto0870.com.
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