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.
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.
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.
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