Co-op fights for new bank customers

File photo dated 07/08/13 of a Co-operative Bank branch sign as the bank has launched a new fight to win back customers and re-build its ethical reputation with a ?125 current account switching offer which includes a donation to charity. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday February 4, 2014. Customers who switch their current account to the Co-op will get ?100 and they will also be able to donate a further ?25 to one of seven charities, including Action Aid, Oxfam, Water Aid and Amnesty International. See PA story MONEY Coop. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire

%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%The Co-operative Bank has launched a new fight to win back customers and re-build its ethical reputation with a £125 current account switching offer which includes a donation to charity.

Customers who switch their current account to the Co-op will get £100 and they will also be able to donate a further £25 to one of seven charities, including Action Aid, Oxfam, Water Aid and Amnesty International.
Last autumn, the Co-op admitted it was shedding current account customers as its reputation took a battering following financial turmoil and the drugs scandal involving former chairman Paul Flowers.

It said previously that possible "brand and reputational damage" stemming from its woes, combined with a new industry-wide guarantee introduced last September to make it easier for consumers to change their bank or building society, "may be a contributing factor to an increase the bank has seen in the switching out of current accounts".

Steve Britain, commercial director at the Co-operative Bank, said today: "We know we have a lot to do to restore trust in our business but with our capital position strengthened, we are able to begin to talk to customers again about the products and services we can offer them."

The Co-op has around 1.6 million current account customers. New customers who open a Co-op standard current account, current account plus or smile current account and credit £800 into it within 31 days will qualify for the offer. Some existing current account customers are also eligible, if they do not already put £800 each month in their account.

Those who switch will get £100 paid into their account within 45 days of the change being completed and they will also receive information on how to choose which charity they want the £25 donation to go to.
The other charities they can choose from are the Carers Trust, Help the Hospices and the Woodland Trust.

Current account customers also get access to preferential rates on other Co-op products, such as an Isa with a fixed rate of up to 2.2% and a personal loan rate from 5.5% on loans between £7,500 and £14,950.

The Co-op, whose image has traditionally attracted organisations including trade unions and charities, still faces a raft of inquiries into what went wrong at the bank.

A rescue plan to plug a £1.5 billion black hole in the Co-operative Bank's finances was approved in December, clearing the way for bondholders, including US hedge funds, to be given 70% of the business.
The Co-operative Bank is now 30%-owned by the Co-operative Group.

The Co-op said that more initiatives are in the pipeline for the coming months to make sure that existing customers get access to its best offers.

As the Co-op has been focusing its efforts on sorting out its crises in recent months rather than going on publicity drives, it has watched as other current account providers have stepped up the battle to win new custom with a string of new perks and high-profile advertising campaigns, following the launch of an
industry guarantee for people looking to switch their provider.

The guarantee cuts the length of time it takes to switch current accounts from up to 30 working days previously to just seven and automatically transfers outgoing and incoming payments over to the new account.

Recent figures from across the industry show that more than 300,000 people switched their current account provider in the first three months of the guarantee.

First Direct and Halifax both currently offer customers £100 to switch to them and last October Lloyds Bank launched a new cashback scheme which sees 1,000 current account customers picked at random every week having the cost of a purchase of up to £500 refunded.

Charlotte Nelson, a spokeswoman for Moneyfacts, said: "Whilst the Co-op has had a few troubled months, they are fighting back and offering customers a £100 switching incentive. By giving an extra £25 to a charity of the customer's choice, they are once again setting themselves apart from the banks."

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Co-op fights for new bank customers
Mortgage rates are low at the moment, but even if you feel that your mortgage is a pretty good deal already, for a lot of borrowers there are better rates to be had. It's crucial to get the sums right – high upfront admin costs from a new lender or large early repayment fees from your existing mortgage provider could wipe out any savings. But, says David Hollingworth of brokers London & Country: "If you have an average standard variable rate (SVR) of 4.75%, a borrower with a £150,000 repayment mortgage over 20 years would pay £969.34 each month. Switching to a two-year fix with Norwich & Peterborough BS at 1.99% with £295 fee, free valuation and free legal work for remortgage would cut the payment to £758.11 a month, saving £211.23p.m." Over a year, that would mean a saving of £2,240, even with a £295 up front fee, and £2535 in following years.
Potential saving: £2,535
Your home and contents insurance may be costing more than it needs to. Gocompare.comdata shows that 25% of customers who provided their buildings and contents insurance renewal price saved up to almost £160 by changing to a new provider.
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With today's high cost of fuel, running a car is an expensive business. For a lot of people, particularly where public transport is sparse, giving up a car altogether is too big a challenge. But perhaps you could use it less, and take steps to bring down the cost of driving when it's unavoidable. The Energy Saving Trust says that just keeping your tyres pumped up correctly can save £31 a year, and turning off the air conditioning can save £77. Follow all the advice on the Energy Saving Trust's app, such as lift sharing and keeping your speed down, and the organisation claims you could save as much as £554 a year for a medium car covering medium mileage.
Potential saving: £554
If you haven't changed car insurer recently, the chances are you could save a lot of money by doing so now. According to research from Consumer Intelligence for, in October 2013, 51% of consumers could save up to £242.55 by moving to a new insurance provider. There are plenty of comparison sites to try, including AOL Compare, so it really doesn't take long to find a cheaper deal.
Potential saving: £243
Start by finding out whether you could get a cheaper deal from a different energy supplier. If you haven't changed in the past, you probably can. According to, you could save around £309 a year just by switching to a cheaper deal (based on customers who switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity (dual fuel) using the Energylinx platforms between 1 July and 30 September 2013).

Over the long term, there are plenty of ways to bring down bills that involve a relatively large outlay up front, such as ensuring your home is properly insulated. But just cutting your current energy use can have a huge impact on your energy bills. Some of the steps you can take are just a question of habit changing, such as switching appliances off instead of leaving them on standby. The Energy Saving Trust reckons the average household could save £50 and £90 a year just by unplugging or switching off at the socket. And turning down the washing machine temperature to 30 degrees, using a washing up bowl instead of leaving the tap running and only putting as much water in the kettle as you need can save you as much as £55 a year. Draught-proofing will save another £55, and proper 270mm loft insulation could save you up to £180 a year – taking into account the cost of fitting it the savings will take a couple of years to kick in.
Potential saving: £689 (far more if you take all the right steps in the home)
According to the NHS, most people who quit smoking save almost £2,000 a year. On top of that you get to feel healthier. What's not to love?
Potential saving: £2,000
Or at least, make your own. If you work in a town or city, the temptation to pop in and get a coffee can be strong. There's something comforting about sipping a hot coffee from those nice warm paper cups as you gear up for the working day. But if you stop to add up what it costs (including the cup), it may leave you cold. A Starbucks medium (OK, tall) latte costs £2.60 on the Strand in London. If you have one of those five days a week, 46 weeks a year (allowing for four weeks holiday), that means you are spending close to £600 – a tall price for a caffeine fix. If you make your own, a Bodum coffee maker costs £20 and a kilo of coffee costs around £13 and will make roughly 120 – 140. Missing the cup for the walk to work? Buy a Thermos mug for around £10. For £43, plus the price of milk, you can have coffee on the go all year round.
Potential saving: £557
It's a familiar scenario for many well-intentioned would-be gym bunnies. You sign up super motivated. You buy new workout gear, perhaps you work out regularly at the start. But then something – a holiday, a nasty cold, late nights at work – breaks your momentum and you stop going to the gym. Eventually your workout clothes lounge around in the cupboard while the gym keeps your bank balance trim by taking that direct debit each month. Gym memberships vary, but if you pay £80 a month for full membership, that's £960 a year's worth of good intentions. Invest in some proper running shoes – you can spend a fortune but specialist shop Run and Become has decent shoes for £50 – and hit the road. Need motivation? Download a free app such as Couch to 5k to get you started and track your progress as you get fitter.
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The range of mobile tariffs can be baffling. Many people end up on the wrong deal, perhaps paying for call time or extras they don't really need or use. There are a number of online tools and apps you can use to check your bill is not too high, such as Billmonitor and Mobilife. Enter your existing details and see if you could save money. In 2012, Billmonitor reckoned 26 million consumers in Britain were paying over the odds by as much as £164. The savings you could make will vary hugely, but it's certainly worth taking a look to see what you could save.

Apps like Viber and Whats App are also worth a mention as they allow you to text and call (Viber only) other users for free who have the apps on their smartphones. Whats App has ayearly subscription fee of around 65p, but the only other cost is the data on your smartphone plan if you're using 3G.

And when it comes to your broadband and home phone, it pays to find out if you are on the best deal. Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert at says: "Our own analysis has highlighted time and time again that a high proportion of customers do not actually switch broadband regularly enough to benefit from better pricing, which is crazy when you consider that switching can save you over £200 from your annual bill. Switching levels for broadband are woefully low when compared with energy or insurance services."
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In the UK, households throw away an estimated 25 meals each month, worth a total of £60 a month or £720 each year. Avoid buying too much food, even when it seems like you are saving money. Try not to 'take advantage' of bulk buy deals you may not use, make good use of your freezer for fresh foods rather than putting them in the fridge and forgetting them, and change a few of your shopping and eating habits and you may save money.

Make a list and stick to it. Shopping online can help you avoid temptation, and if you do your shopping on, you could save even more. Enter your items as you would on a supermarket site, and it will find the cheapest supermarket for your needs saving on average £17 a shop, according to the site. On a weekly basis that makes £884.

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You might not be able to pay your credit card off straight away, but you can cut the cost. If your credit card has a rate of 18.9% and you have a balance of £5,000, then you could save £472 by doing a balance transfer to a credit card with a 0% introductory deal for the first six months.
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