Santander nets top current account switching gain

Santander, Halifax, and Nationwide Building Society continue to be among the biggest "winners" from customers using the current account switching service, the latest figures show.

Figures, published six months in arrears, show that Santander made a net gain of around 51,000 customers using the switching service between July and September.

Meanwhile, Barclays made a net loss of more than 25,000 customers and Lloyds Bank shed more than 10,000 customers.

RBS made a net loss of more than 11,000 customers during the period and sister bank NatWest lost more than 15,000 customers. HSBC made a net loss of more than 8,000 customers.

Halifax made a net gain of more than 11,000 customers using the service during the period and Nationwide piled on more than 15,000 customers.

Newer players such as Tesco Bank and TSB also made net gains.

The figures were published by payments body Bacs, which oversees the current account switching service, launched in 2013.

The figures relating to individual banks and building societies only cover people switching their account using the service - and not those who switch outside the service.

The service was launched in 2013 - and March 2016 saw the highest number of monthly switches, at 124,615.

Overall, there have been more than 2.8 million switches so far under the scheme.

A Barclays spokeswoman said: "The switching service works well for customers, however there is still significant account opening and closing outside of the service. In fact, we continue to open more current accounts each month than we close.

"Since launching the Barclays Blue Rewards programme last year, we have given new customers even more reasons to switch to us and existing customers a great reason to stay."

Bacs said 309,678 switches took place during the three months from January to March 2016, showing a 20% increase in the number of switches completed compared to the fourth quarter of 2015 and 10% more than the same period last year.

The switching service means that people can now complete their switch in seven working days - compared with up to 30 working days before the service was introduced in 2013.

All outgoing and incoming payments are automatically swapped over to the new account for those using the switching service and a guarantee means that people will not be left out of pocket if something goes wrong with the switch.

Santander's innovative 123 current account pays cashback on household bills as well as 3% interest. Nationwide pays current account customers interest of up to 5%, while some Halifax customers get paid a £5 "reward" each month.

But in January 2016, Santander upped the fee on its 123 account, from £2 to £5 a month.

Kevin Mountford, head of banking at website MoneySuperMarket, said the latest current account switching figures were "very encouraging".

But he continued: "While the increase in figures is positive news, the number of switches is still comparatively small, given there are 65 million active current account holders in the UK.

"Banks and building societies therefore have a good opportunity to capitalise on these people and should continue to create innovative products that create consumer excitement and encourage switching, especially as it's only a handful of providers that are making net gains from switching activity at the moment."

Here are the net gains made by banks and building societies of customers using the current account switching service between July 1 2015 and September 30 2015. The figures are provided voluntarily and only include customers using the switching service:

:: AIB Group (UK) plc (includes First Trust Bank and Allied Irish Bank GB), minus 701

:: Bank of Ireland (includes Post Office brand), minus 353

:: Bank of Scotland, minus 1,245

:: Barclays, minus 25,577

:: Clydesdale Bank (includes Yorkshire Bank brand), minus 3,291

:: Co-operative (includes Smile brand), minus 4,952

:: Danske, minus 466

:: Halifax, 11,177

:: HSBC (includes First Direct and Marks & Spencer Bank brands), minus 8,683

:: Lloyds Bank, minus 10,198

:: Nationwide, 15,192

:: NatWest, minus 15,788

:: RBS (includes Adam & Company, Coutts and Isle of Man brands), minus 11,484

:: Santander, 51,002

:: Tesco Bank, 623

:: TSB, 3,380

:: Ulster Bank, minus 1,365.