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

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

Banks have often used current account switching bonuses as a way of enticing new customers.

HSBC has just relaunched it's impressive £200 switching bonus for anyone signing up to its Advance current account and sticking around for a year.

However, to qualify you'll need to pay in at least £1,750 a month, or a minimum £10,500 every six months.

So how does it compare to other top switching offers on the market? You can compare the benefits and features of the top current accounts by visiting a comparison centre, or you can read on to see out summary of the top offers.

HSBC – £200 cash bonus

The £200 bonus is paid in two parts: £150 within 30 days of you opening the account, and £50 if you stick around for 12 months.

While the £1,750 monthly deposit is pretty strict compared to other banks, the account does have a few nifty perks.

For starters, you'll get £250 off booking fees on HSBC mortgages. You'll also get access to its Regular Saver account, which pays 5% on monthly deposits of up to £250. That means at least some of your savings will be beating inflation.

M&S Bank – £125 in vouchers

Sadly, it's not a cash reward, but you can pocket £125 in M&S vouchers when you join M&S Bank.

You just need to switch to the M&S Current Account or M&S Premium Current Account using the Current Account Switch Service and move a minimum of two active Direct Debits.

The £125 switching bonus will appear in your account once everything is wrapped up.

You can then get a £5 top up on the gift card each month that a minimum of £1,000 is paid into your account and two Direct Debits remain active, for up to 12 months after you switch.

So that's a total of £185 in year one – provided you meet all the criteria.

The fee-free M&S Current Account gives you access to a monthly savings account paying 5%, £100 fee-free overdraft and the chance to earn M&S Loyalty points each time you spend.

The M&S Premium Current Account offers all that plus a range of other benefits in return for a £10 monthly fee.

With the account, you can get yearly vouchers worth £95 including a birthday gift worth £10, 48 hot drink vouchers per year worth £127, preferential rates on selected products, access to exclusive offers and triple points in M&S stores and online

First Direct – £100

First Direct offers a £100 incentive to those that open its 1st Account and pay in at least £1,000 within three months.

There's a £10 monthly fee for the account after six months unless you pay in at least £1,000 a month or hold another First Direct product.

The account comes with a £250 interest-free overdraft, exclusive access to leading rates on loans and savings, plus an award-winning level of customer service with real people on hand 24/7.

It also comes with a satisfaction guarantee. First Direct promises to pay £100 to those unhappy with the account that decide to leave within a year of joining.

Halifax – £75 up front

Halifax is offering a £75 bonus to new customers that switch to its Reward Current Account or Ultimate Reward Account.

The Reward Current Account is a good option as it also pays £3 a month (as long as you deposit at least £750 each month, have two Direct Debits set up and stay in credit). So, after one year you could have earned £161.

The bonus will be paid into your account after you've completed the switch when you use the Current Account Switch Service to transfer and close your old account.

You can also earn as you spend on your debit card with a scheme called Cashback Extras, which allows you to earn money when you shop at certain retailers online or in store.

Finding the best deal

When switching current account, it's important to consider what your long-term needs are as well as the short-term gains a cash or voucher bonus can provide.

Other accounts like the TSB Classic Account and the Santander 123 Current Account for example offer decent levels of interest that could provide more value in the long-term, and not just give your bank balance a quick boost.

You can compare the benefits and features of the top current accounts by visiting the loveMONEY Yahoo comparison centre.

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10 things we hate about our banks

More than 46,000 of 106,000 the complaints received by the FOS in the second half of last year related to payment protection insurance (PPI). And the organisation is expecting to receive a record 165,000 PPI complaints in 2012/2013.

The huge numbers are due to the PPI mis-selling scandal that should now be a thing of the past, but there is no doubt that the insurance, which can add thousands to the cost of a loan, is highly unpopular!

(Pictured: Martin Lewis after the PPI payout ruling)

Complaints about mortgages jumped by 38% in the last six months of last year, the FOS figures show, compared to an increase of just 5% in investment-related complaints.

Common gripes about mortgages include the exit penalties imposed should you want to sell up or change you mortgage before a fixed or discounted deal comes to an end, and the high arrangement fees charged by many lenders.

While there is nothing in the data released by the FOS about the number of complaints relating to savings accounts, hard-pressed savers have been struggling with low interest rates for several years now.

You can get up to 3.10% with Santander's easy-access eSaver account, but many older accounts are paying 1.00% or less and even this market-leading offer includes a 12-month bonus of 2.60% - meaning that the rate will plummet to just 0.50% after the first year.

Banks are imposing the highest authorised overdraft interest rates since records began, with today's borrowers paying an average of 19.47%, according to the Bank of England.

A typical Briton with an overdraft of £1,000 is therefore forking out around £200 in interest charges alone. Coupled with meagre returns on savings, it's enough to make your blood boil!

While authorised overdrafts may seem expensive, going into the red without permission will cost you even more due to huge penalty fees.

Barclays, for example, charges £8 (up to a maximum of £40 a day) each time that there is not enough money in your account to cover a payment.

If you need to send money abroad, the likelihood is that your bank will impose transfer charges - and offer you a poor rate of exchange. Someone transferring a five-figure sum could easily lose out by £500 or more as a result.

The good news, however, is that you can often get a better deal by using a currency specialist such as Moneycorp.

Automated telephone banking systems, not to mention call centres in far-flung parts of the world, are one of our top gripes - especially as we often encounter them when we are already calling to report a problem.

In the words of one disgruntled customer: "What is it about telephone banking that turns me into Victor Meldrew? Well, maybe it's the fourteen security questions, maybe it's the range of products that they try to push or maybe it's because I'm forced to listen to jazz funk at full volume while my phone bill soars.

"Actually though, I think it's because the people I eventually speak to rarely seem able to solve the issue I'm calling about."

The days of a personal relationship with your bank manager are long gone - for the huge majority of us at least.

When ethical Triodos Bank investigated recently why around 9 million Britons would not recommend their banks to a friend or relative, it found that almost a third felt they were not treated as individuals. Another 40%, meanwhile, were simply disappointed with the customer service they received.

When you're in a rush, the last thing you want to do is wait in a long queue at your local branch.

Researchers at consumer champion Which? recently found that most people get seen within 12 minutes, but you could have a much longer wait if you go in at a busy time. Frustrating stuff!

The Triodos Bank research also indicated that the bonus culture that ensured the bank's high-flying employees received large salaries, even when it was making a loss at the taxpayer's expense, was hugely unpopular with consumers.

About a quarter of those who would not recommend their current banks said this was the main reason why. And with RBS executives sharing a £785 million bonus pool despite the bank, which is 82% publicly owned, making a loss of £2 billion last year, it's not hard to see why.

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