'Royal bank' hikes charges for private customers Coutts costs £150 quarterly if balance below £250K

07 July 2010

Queen's speech

Coutts' decision to impose a quarterly management fee on clients who have less than £250,000 invested with it could cost some customers £600 a year.

The decision to raise the threshold from £10,000 to £250,000 is not likely to impact on the bank's most famous customer (pictured right), but it does mark the distinction between Coutts and most high street banks, where current accounts are normally free.

Free banking

Most UK banks still provide current accounts free of charge. First Direct, the online bank owned by HSBC charges £10 a month to customers who deposit less than £1,500 a month, but waive this fee for those with First Direct savings accounts or other selected products. 

Although high street banks, such as Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS offer free accounts, their overdraft charges and fees for other services do vary.    

Packaged accounts

Most high street banks also offer packaged bank accounts, which charge an annual fee but provide other services. These often include travel insurance, breakdown cover, mobile phone insurance and ID protection. Which? has found that most of these benefits can be purchased separately and that packaged accounts can be an expensive way of paying for them, unless you use the whole range. RBS Royalties Gold costs £155 a year, for example, while the Lloyds Premier account costs £300.

pound coins

Which? Money when you need it

You can follow @WhichMoney on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our Best Rates and Recommended Provider product and service reviews.

Sign up for the latest money news, best rates and recommended providers in your newsletter every Friday.

Or for money-saving tips, and news of how what's going on in the world of finance affects you, join Melanie Dowding and James Daley for the Which? Money weekly money podcast

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. And to find out how we work for you on money issues, visit our personal finance campaigns pages.