How to get a better deal by switching banks

You might even benefit from a 'switching bonus'

Bank Counter

How long have you been with your bank? Often we open one when we're 18, and have been with the same branch ever since.

See also: The best bank accounts for switching bonuses

See also: Bank branch closures: older people face missed bills and overdrafts

Well, like energy, broadband and mobile phones you could get a better deal if you switch.

Why you might want to switch

There's a huge amount of competition right now between banks to get you to move bank. The incentives range from "switching bonuses" of up to £150 through to cashback on bills. You can also often find the highest cash interest rates on savings through your high street current account rather than in an ISA or other savings account.

These are all well worth looking into, but even without these extras, there are good reasons to switch.

You might be able to get an interest-free overdraft or lower overdraft fees – ideal if you sometimes go into the red.

If your local bank branch is closing, moving your business to another bank could be more convenient, or you might choose a new bank based on the quality of customer service, phone banking or even mobile banking app.

The big question everyone should ask is are they getting anything from their existing current account. If the answer is no, forget loyalty and switch.

How switching works

The Current Account Switching Service (CASS) began in 2013, and it guarantees to switch your account and any money in there from your old bank to your new bank within seven working days.

Not only that, any switch made through CASS will move all your payments in and out. So your Direct Debits and standing orders will be transferred for you without the need to contact the bank or supplier.

You'll also have any payments in or out of the old account monitored and switched for a minimum of 36 months. After that the account will be monitored every month until 13 months have passed without a rogue payment.

If there are any mistakes made you'll also get refunded any interest or charges to either the new or old account as a result.

What happens to your old bank account?

To take advantage of the switching guarantee and to have all your payments moved, you need to select to close your old account. Some of the switching incentives require you to do this in order to get the benefits.

You can, of course, elect to open a brand new account in addition to your existing account. There's no limit to the number of accounts you can have, though you will be credit checked each time you apply and you'll have to manually move any regular payments yourself.

Why you might not want to switch

There will be occasions where it could suit you to stick with your bank, even if there is a switching incentive on offer. You could already have the best account for your purposes, such as overdraft fees, or having an account with the bank may be a requirement of something like your mortgage.

It's also worth noting that the longer you have a bank account, the more it helps your credit score. So if you're thinking of buying a home or remortgaging, you might want to wait to switch.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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