Furore as NatWest and RBS restrict cash machine accessBasic account users blocked from other banks' ATMs

18 August 2011

RBS-natwest logos

NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland have been criticised for restricting cash machine access for holders of their basic bank accounts

NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) have been lambasted for preventing holders of their basic bank accounts from using other banks' cash machines.

NatWest and RBS basic bank account holders can only withdraw cash from NatWest, RBS or Ulster Bank cash machines in the UK or at the Post Office. The move places RBS and NatWest alongside Lloyds TSB, which already restricts it 'Cash Account' holders to using Lloyds TSB cash machines and branches of the Post Office.

Previously, most basic bank account holders were able to use the Link network to withdraw cash.

Which? principal policy adviser Dominic Lindley commented: 'This change will increase financial exclusion as it leaves basic bank account holders at RBS unable to access around 80% of the free cash machines in the UK. These account holders will be inconvenienced and might incur extra costs when travelling to find a cash machine they can use.'

  •  To read Dominic's full analysis of the RBS / NatWest move, and to have your say, visit Which? Conversation

What is a basic bank account?

Basic bank accounts offer most of the usual services available from a standard current account, including a debit card, direct debits, standing orders and cash withdrawals. However, they don't come with an overdraft facility. As a result, they can be useful for consumers with a poor credit history (or no credit history at all) who find it difficult to access mainstream banking services.

Banks rarely promote their basic bank accounts, as the lack of monthly account fees and the absence of an overdraft facility make them less profitable than other accounts.

For help in choosing the right current account for you, read the Which? guide Finding the best bank account. And check out our Best Rate bank account reviews to find the best deals.

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.