Packaged bank accounts, which offer perks in return for a monthly fee, haven't always had the best rep in the current account market.
Between complicated exclusions and mis-selling scandals, it's difficult to see the good side of them.
But if you plan it right, you can bag a great deal and save hundreds of pounds.
What is a packaged bank account?
They come with a monthly fee, so you need to check whether the perks on offer outweigh this cost or you'll be better off sticking with a traditional current account.
It's also crucial that you read the small print before you sign up as there are a load of exclusions that can catch you out.
Also, check that you're not doubling up with another policy you've already bought elsewhere, or receive through your company.
Pros and cons
It's fair to say that we've been fairly scathing of packaged current accounts in the past, but that's not to say they can't work for certain people.
You might find you can get the benefits cheaper as extras than you could if you bought them separately.
That said, you could also end up paying for things you never use or, in the worst cases, aren't eligible for.
As we mentioned earlier, the exclusions and limits can be quite, er, limiting.
For example, you might find your travel insurance doesn't cover winter sports or that it doesn't cover you if you're over 70.
Some providers may also set require an excellent credit rating before they'll lend to you.
And of course, a rejected application could have negative impact on your credit rating.
Banks don't even have to check if it's suitable for the customer so you could be left with a useless (but expensive) account.
Which deals are the best?
There are a few deals, which lead the pack when it comes to packaged accounts. All of these can be opened as an individual or joint account.
Nationwide FlexPlus Current Account
Nationwide offers the most comprehensive account for the lowest monthly fee (£10).
You'll get worldwide travel insurance for you, your partner/spouse and any children/dependents who live in the same address as you.
The insurance can cover you in most places worldwide, with the exception of countries with travel warnings from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
What's more, most holiday popular sports (and weddings) are covered as standard. So, if it's winter sports, cycling or rock climbing (or all of the above) you're into, you're covered.
Trips affected by extreme weather, a natural disaster or if your airline fails are included.
Anyone over 75 will need to pay a £50-a-year premium for their travel cover. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, have a word with Nationwide first just to make sure you can be covered.
In terms of other cover, anybody who lives at your address and has a mobile phone up to the value of £1,000 – including children up until the age of 19 (22 if they're in full-time education) – can get mobile phone cover.
You'll also bag breakdown cover across the UK and Europe, as long as you have a private car.
Still worried about the monthly fee? You'll earn 3% interest on balances up to £2,500 for the first year, which comes to a total of £75. That comes a decent way to offsetting your £120 annual fee. At least for the first year, anyway.
Halifax Ultimate Reward Account
The Halifax Ultimate Reward account offers worldwide travel insurance (including winter sports and golf) up to the age of 70.
Switch now and you'll get a £100 bonus; this drops to £75 from 28 February 2017.
The monthly fee is £15, which equates to £180 a year. However, for every month that you spend more than £750, pay two direct debits and remain in credit, the fee will be reduced by £3 a month.
AA breakdown cover and home emergency cover are included as standard.
NatWest Reward Platinum Account
The Natwest Reward Platinum Account offers worldwide travel insurance up until your 70th birthday, including £10 million medical expenses cover. And yes, that includes winter sports too.
To get you there you've got 10% off the base price of holidays with major tour operators, 10% discount on airport parking and 10% off baggage allowance upgrades and in-flight meals on Thomas Cook Airlines.
You've got smartphone cover for loss, theft, accidental damage and if your phone stops working – but it's just you, none of your family. Green Flag breakdown cover gives you home assistance with a limit of five callouts a year.
Sweeteners include get a Tastecard membership, which gives 2 for 1 deals or 50% off at various restaurants across the UK, and two annual National Trust family day passes.
With its 3% cashback offer you'll bag hundreds a year on your household bills, supermarket shopping and more.
You can redeem cashback in cash once you reach £5, or you can choose to go with vouchers for high street names like Cineworld and Caffe Nero.
The catch? You'll be stung with an £18 monthly fee, which amounts to £216 a year.
NatWest's sister Reward Silver Account offers a similar product but without the travel discounts, breakdown cover and the National Trust day passes. It is a significantly smaller £12 a month though.
Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank Signature Account
That excludes Afghanistan, Cuba, Liberia and Sudan and any other areas the FCO has advised against all but essential travel.
Its mobile phone insurance is pretty standard, covering a handset up to the value of £1000 for loss theft and accidental damage. UK breakdown cover is also provided by Green Flag.
If you've got a collection of pricey gadgets these accounts are a better choice for you as they cover a range of devices including cameras, MP3 players, laptops, tablets and other items valued from £50-£750.
It covers gadgets owned by yourself or a family member but be warned that only gadgets that are five years old or less (from the original purchase date) at the point of claim are covered.
Part of the reason we've been so scathing in the past is that packaged bank accounts have been wrapped up in a number of mis-selling scandals.
Salespeople have been pressured into selling products, which are unsuitable for customers leaving them with an account that includes benefits they can't use.
In many cases, a 'free' standard account would have been much better for their needs.
If you're mis-sold a packaged account
You're not alone if you've been mis-sold a packaged account.
The first step is to establish whether or not you were actually mis-sold:
Look out for these signs:
- You were signed up without being told;
- You weren't told you could have a free bank account;
- You were told that having one would improve your credit score;
- You were told you could get a market-leading deal on other financial products or services with this account but found you could actually get them cheaper as a new customer;
- You needed the account to access a loan or mortgage;
- Your bank knew you wouldn't be eligible for one or more of the benefits;
- It failed to tell you that you're no longer eligible for one of the benefits.
Try complaining to your provider first. Tell them how you'd like the problem to be resolved – perhaps you'd like your fees refunded or to be switched back to a standard current account.
Pop in-branch or ring up first, but failing that you should write them a letter with bank statements detailing how much you've paid.
However, if you don't get anywhere then it's time to get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service.