Banks use current account switching bonuses as a way of enticing new customers and Halifax has just upped it incentive from £75 to £125.
So how does it compare to other top switching offers on the market?
Halifax – £125 upfront
Halifax is offering a £125 bonus for customers who 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.
The Ultimate Reward Account is a packaged account including multi-trip family travel insurance and mobile insurance. It costs £15 a month.
You'll need to hurry as the offer ends on 13 November.
Co-op Bank – £125 cash bonus
If you switch to the Co-operative Bank Current Account or Everyday Extra Account, you'll get £125 and £25 will be given to youth homelessness charity, Centrepoint.
To get the bonus you'll need to use the Current Account Switch Service and set up four active Direct Debits.
If you opt into Everyday Rewards, you'll also get up £5.50 extra every month for everyday banking, just as long as you deposit at least £800 a month.
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.
The offer ends on 26 November.
M&S Bank – £185 in gift cards
Sadly, it's not a cash reward, but you can pocket £185 in M&S vouchers when you join M&S Bank and stay for 12 months.
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.
A £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
Once you have opened a current account with a bank or other lender, you will get a steady flow of emails, letters (and maybe phone calls) offering you a savings account, loan, mortgage, ISA etc to go with it. But while it may be tempting to have everything in one place, it's better to do the legwork and shop around for the best financial products. You can compare interest rates on loans and savings accounts in the 'best buy' tables in the newspapers, or look online on comparison sites. Remember you can still easily transfer your money between accounts, even if they are not with the same financial institution.
Whether you want to apply for a new mortgage or refinance an existing one, your bank will probably be very happy to give you an instant quote in the hope that you will go with them. They may not tell you that you can shop around at other lenders. A mortgage broker can give you an overview of the best interest rates on offer, and might be able to cut you an even better deal him/herself.
Want to cash in your jars of change that are sitting on your shelves at home? Many banks are not very keen on coins. They often only take it from their own customers. You will have to sort it into different denominations and put the coins in the bank's bags in set amounts (for example, £1 for coppers, £5 for silver, etc). Some banks only take a limited number of bags a day, or won't take any at busy times. Others take a different view: HSBC has free coin deposit machines in many larger branches where you pour your jar of coins into the machine and it counts them and automatically credits your account. Barclays, NatWest and RBS also have machines in large branches in city centres.
Bank employees now have a duty to point out that they only advise on the bank's products and don't offer independent financial advice. What they won't tell you is that even the advice they give you about the bank's own products should be treated cautiously. Bank staff are often undertrained, underpaid and overworked. (You could ask for the employee's qualifications before getting advice.) So do your own research and/or find an independent financial adviser.
Nothing is set in stone. Your bank won't tell you this, but sometimes it will waive a fee, for example an overdraft or an ATM fee, depending on the circumstances. You have nothing to lose by asking, if you can argue persuasively why they should waive the fee. Citizens Advice says your bank should treat you sympathetically if you can show financial hardship.
As stated in the previous slide, some things are negotiable – such as interest rates or waiving fees – if you can make a good case for it. In that instance, talking to an employee in person is better than filling in a form online.
If your account is overdrawn and you get paid, your bank could use this money to pay off your overdraft without your permission. However, you have a right to ask them not to do this so you can pay your rent or mortgage first. This is called first right of appropriation. You have to ask your bank in writing, and you'll need to write to them with new instructions every time money gets paid into your account. Make sure you write 'first right of appropriation' in your letter.
If money is mistakenly credited to your account, your bank or building society can recover the money, assuming they do this within a reasonable time. But you may be allowed to keep the money, for example if you didn't realise the bank had made a mistake and spent the money in good faith. You would have to prove that you spent it in such a way that it would be unfair to ask you to pay it back. You can complain to the Financial Ombudsman if you think your lender is being unfair in asking you to repay the money.
If you do have to pay it back, you could try to reach an agreement with your bank to pay it back in instalments without interest being added.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has more advice on what happens when payments have been credited to the wrong account. If you did something wrong - for example, by entering the wrong account number - rather than the bank, the Financial Ombudsman may still uphold your complaint. They consider whether the financial institution made it clear to the consumer that only the bank sort code and account number are used to process the payment, rather than the name of the payee. They will also ask whether the lender should have realised that the consumer had made mistake, and once the problem came to light, did the firm take reasonable steps to try to get the money back from the recipient.
If too much is deducted from your account, your lender may have to refund the full amount of the payment. For example, if the money is taken through a direct debit or credit card payment for a hotel room or car rental. When deciding whether the debit was reasonable, the bank or building society will take into account your previous spending pattern. But the bank doesn't have to refund the payment if you agreed the amount beforehand or were informed of the payment by your lender at least four weeks before.
If you don't have enough money in your account to cover a direct debit payment, your bank may not make the payment. It doesn't have to tell you that the payment hasn't been made, so the onus is on you to keep checking your account. If, on the other hand, the payment goes through, you may be charged for an unauthorised overdraft.