Switching current accounts: Your questions answered

The number of people making the switch has fallen to a record low

Switching current accounts: Your questions answered

It's easier than ever before, only takes seven days and we're not doing it anymore. Obviously, we're talking about current account switching.

Since the Current Account Switching Service was launched four years ago, millions have taken the opportunity to move bank. However, the number of people making the switch has fallen to a record low.

See also: Current and savings accounts that beat inflation

See also: HSBC switching bonus makes a comeback, but is it any good?

Just 57,779 changed current account provider last month, down from 120,774 in March 2016.

But what is the switching service, why should you switch and what can you get out of it?

What is the Current Account Switching Service?

In very simple terms, the Current Account Switching Service allows you to easily move current accounts without having to worry about Direct Debits, payments or being without a bank account for a period of time.

The whole thing can be completed in just seven days and all you have to do is apply for a current account at a new bank and choose a switching date – they do everything else.

The service covers 99% of UK current accounts, but does not apply to savings accounts, ISAs or non-UK accounts.

Why are people not switching?

It's hard to say. People are naturally cautious when it comes to anything involving their money, but the most obvious reason would be that people don't realise the benefits of switching.

What are the benefits?

There are huge benefits to be had which can save you money, make you some extra cash or just entitle you to an added perk.

What can I get out of it?

Most people have been with their bank for a long time. In fact, some research suggests we stay longer with our bank (17 years) than we do with our husband or wife (11 years). So, what can you get out of switching?

Pay less in charges

Do you often find yourself in your overdraft at the end of the month? If so you might be being charged for it, sometimes quite a lot.

By switching banks, you can end up paying a lot less in unplanned overdraft fees, or might even get an interest free overdraft limit.

Cash incentive

A lot of banks are offering new customers a reward just for switching to them and this can be up to £150!

Interest rates

Some of the best interest rates at the moment are being offered by current account providers and by switching you can take advantage of the best rates.

However, there are restrictions on getting the best rates, such as paying in a minimum amount each month or having a certain number of Direct Debits, so make sure you qualify before switching.

Money back

Some banks will give you cashback on Direct Debits paid from your account on the likes of Council Tax, energy bills and broadband. However, these accounts all come with a fee so make sure you'll earn enough cashback to justify it.

Local branches

There is a lot of talk about banks closing down branches, particularly in rural areas and city centres.

If you're affected by this, then why not simply switch to a bank with a branch near you.

Extras

From cinema tickets and magazine subscriptions to gift cards and discount insurance, banks are offering a range of perks to encourage you to switch.

While these might be attractive, it's probably not the best idea to base your decision around these. However, they could be good as a tie-breaker if you can't decide between a couple of options.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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