M&S Bank has announced a new deal for its Current Account, which could leave you £185 better off. It sounds like money for nothing, but is the deal as good as it sounds?
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M&S has introduced a new, more generous, switching bonus of a £125 M&S gift card. You'll get your card when you switch to the M&S account and have at least two direct debits coming out of it. In addition, you'll get £5 a month to spend in M&S for the first year that you hold the account - as long as you deposit at least £1,000 a month.
This is one of the most generous switching bonuses on the market - second only to the HSBC Advance Current Account which pays £150, plus another £50 after 12 months if you register for mobile or online banking within 60 days of opening your account. The HSBC account, however, requires you to deposit £1,750 each month
Of course the M&S vouchers for switching will be far more valuable to you if you are a regular M&S shopper.
The M&S account also provides a debit card that offers extra loyalty points at M&S - so you get one point for every £1 you spend in the store. You then get £1 in M&S vouchers for very 100 points you earn - which works out as 1% cashback in M&S. You'll also get double Sparks points.
There's plenty of competition in the current account cashback market, so this is only likely to be a major draw if you are a dedicated M&S shopper. If you don't shop at M&S, you can change your shopping habits in order to cash in, but you need to ensure you aren't paying more for the items than you would elsewhere.
Alternatively, it's worth looking at the cashback available elsewhere. Nationwide's FlexDirect account, for example, offers cashback of up to 35% at selected retailers, while the Tesco Bank Current Account offers 2 points for every £1 spent at Tesco or Tesco fuel.
Other perks include an automatic £500 overdraft, the first £100 of which is interest-free, and the rest charged at a rate of 15.9%. This is second only in the market to First Direct, which offers a free £250 overdraft.
Another bonus for customers is that you'll also get access to the high rate M&S Monthly Saver account, with a rate of 5%. You can save between £25 and £250 a month into this account, and could make another £81 in interest over the year. This again matches the First Direct offer - as well as the Nationwide FlexAccount, HSBC Advance and the Santander 123 offer, and is great for regular savers.
If your savings habits aren't quite so regular and reliable, however, you may be better off with the Nationwide FlexDirect Account, which offers 5% on any money in the current account - up to £2,500.
But perhaps the most sensible benefit, is the fact that rather than sticking to antiquated banking hours and a dwindling high street presence, your branch will be local and open for longer - including evenings and weekends. In addition, all M&S Bank branches offer a pager service so you can shop or wait in the M&S Café and you'll be alerted as soon as a member of the team is available.
It seems, therefore, that for regular M&S shoppers - and those who can get decent value out of switching some of their shopping to the chain - this is a great deal. It's also incredibly handy for those who want a good return on regular savings, a decent interest-free overdraft buffer and like to bank in a branch.
For those who don't tend to shop at M&S, however, there may be a more suitable combination on the market.