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Best and worst banks

Discover the best and the worst banks for customer service, rated by thousands of current account customers.

In this article
Coronavirus (COVID-19) banking update How do I find the best bank? Best and worst banks revealed A closer look at the Which? Recommended Providers  Starling Bank 
First Direct  M&S Bank Worst banks for customer satisfaction About Which?'s bank account research

Coronavirus (COVID-19) banking update

Banks are offering support to customers who are affected by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Keep on top of the latest news and advice related to the COVID-19 pandemic with Which?

How do I find the best bank?

Everybody's banking needs are different. Some with a healthy balance may want to find an account that pays them interest, others are looking for one that doesn't charge through the nose to use an overdraft.

At Which?, we think the way your bank treats you should be an essential part of finding the best account.

So, we've done the hard work for you. Every year, we survey thousands of current account customers and ask them to rate the service they receive. This gives us the Which? Customer Score. 

We then calculate the 'product score' of almost 40 current accounts to find our Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs) - the banks and building societies that offer great products and top-notch customer service. 

 

Best and worst banks revealed

Scroll through the table to see how real customers have rated dozens of banks and building societies.

The table also includes star ratings for ten elements of the banks' service: overall customer service; the application process;  regularity and clarity of communication; transparency of charges; dealing with complaints and resolving problems; service in branch; telephone, online and mobile banking; and benefits such as cashback and credit interest.

Not all banks appear in our table. That's because we need a minimum of 50 people to respond to our survey to generate meaningful ratings. We're always trying to increase our coverage. 

Brand Customer Score Product Score Customer Service Application Process Communication Transparency of charges Handling complaints Service in Branch Telephone banking Online banking Mobile App Benefits

Recommended provider

Starling Bank
88% 73%

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

- - -

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Monzo 82% 66%

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

-

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Recommended provider

First Direct
79% 93%

5 out of 5

-

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

-

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

2 out of 5

Metro Bank 78% 65%

4 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Recommended provider

M&S Bank
77% 89%

4 out of 5

-

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

Revolut 77% N/A - -

4 out of 5

- - - - -

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Nationwide Building Society 74% 68%

4 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

2 out of 5

Halifax 70% 77%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

NatWest 69% 79%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

2 out of 5

Lloyds Bank 69% 80%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

The Co-operative Bank 68% 56%

3 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

Barclays Bank 68% 81%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

Smile 67% 62%

3 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

- -

4 out of 5

- -
Danske Bank 66% 60%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

HSBC 65% 75%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

Bank of Scotland 64% 77%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Santander 63% 76%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

TSB 63% 67%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

Ulster Bank 62% 78%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

Bank of Ireland 62% 68%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

Virgin Money 61% 70%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Royal Bank of Scotland 61% 76%

2 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

Citibank 60% N/A

2 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

 

Table notes: We surveyed 5,646 members of the general public in September 2020. Sample sizes for our survey as follows: Starling Bank - 104, Monzo Bank - 101, First Direct - 171, Metro Bank - 115, M&S Bank - 178, Nationwide - 475, Halifax - 500, NatWest - 469, Lloyds Bank - 518, The Co-operative Bank - 126, Barclays Bank - 666, Smile - 66, Danske Bank - 84, HSBC - 406, Bank of Scotland - 164, Santander - 453, TSB - 155, Ulster Bank - 76, Bank of Ireland - 62, Virgin Money - 269, Royal Bank of Scotland - 136, Citibank - 58

Product scores: where banks have multiple accounts, we have shown the highest score it achieved from our analysis. Where N/A appears, we were unable to rate the bank's product. Star ratings: a - indicates that we did not get enough responses on a particular aspect of a provider's service to generate a star rating, or the provider does not offer this service.       

A closer look at the Which? Recommended Providers 

Our unique customer score combines customers’ overall satisfaction with a financial brand, and their likelihood to recommend that company, if asked. 

Starling Bank 

Starling made a strong debut in our rankings in 2019, taking second place. This time it has clinched the top spot with a score of 88% and we’ve named it a WRP.

Customers praised its ‘clear and honest communications’, the ease of opening an account and using the app, as well as speedy responses from the ‘excellent customer service’, which is available 24/7 via the app and over the telephone.

Although it started life as a smartphone bank, Starling launched online banking for personal customers in October 2020. 

The Starling debit card is fee-free for purchases and foreign ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world, making it the cheapest debit card to take abroad

Customers can also apply for an additional Starling 'Connected' card which can be loaded with up to £200 and given to someone they trust - ideal if they are unable to leave the house but need some help with the shopping.  

It also offers one of the cheapest arranged overdrafts though only for customers with decent credit scores (it charges a rate of 15%, 25% or 35% EAR dependent on your credit score though even its highest rate beats the high street banks).

First Direct 

First Direct has slipped from first to third place this year but achieved a very respectable score of 79%.

The bank also received the highest score in a separate survey where we asked customers to rate financial brands’ level of service during the first four months of lockdown (87% rated it positively).

Nearly every aspect of its service was rated five stars by customers, including online banking, the mobile banking app, complaints-handling and overall customer service. 

The only low rating was for account benefits (two stars). Its standard current account '1st account' doesn't offer any cashback or credit interest. But you do get a £250 interest-free overdraft (then 39.9% AER) and customers can open a Regular Saver paying 2.75% AER.

First Direct shares deposit protection with HSBC so limit deposits to £85,000 across the two brands.

M&S Bank

M&S Bank is our third and final Recommended Provider with a customer score of 77%.

Though customers are still less than enthusiastic about its mobile banking app (it achieved an average three stars for this aspect of its service) it earned four stars for its branch service and five stars for online banking.

Current account customers earn 1 point for every £1 spent on their M&S Visa Debit Card in M&S (in store and online) through the M&S Loyalty Scheme. 

As with First Direct, the first £250 of an arranged overdraft is interest-free but beyond this, you'll pay 39.9% AER. 

Although M&S Bank is owned by HSBC, it operates under its own banking licence which means customers are entitled to full deposit protection up to £85,000.

 

What about Monzo, Metro Bank and Revolut?

 

We don't just pick Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs) on the basis of their customer score. 

Metro Bank achieved an excellent customer score but its product score was below average, preventing it from achieving WRP status.

Since 2019 we've insisted that WRPs be signed up to the Authorised Push Payment Scam Code. Unlike most current account providers, Monzo has not signed up.

Revolut operates under an e-money licence in the UK, so you aren't covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

While e-money firms must still ringfence your funds in a segregated account, to protect it in cases of insolvency, we can only recommend the more robust, independent FSCS safety net.

Worst banks for customer satisfaction

Tesco Bank and Citibank lie at the bottom of our table, each with a customer score of 60%.

Despite featuring in the top six in 2018, Tesco Bank fell out of favour after it cut the interest rate on its current account from 3% to 1% in early 2019.

From December 2020, it will stop paying interest altogether. Several customers in our survey expressed their irritation that this headline rate is being axed and a few were frustrated that they can only pay in cheques by post.

Complaints handling was another area of concern, with Tesco Bank scoring just two stars.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and its subsidiary Ulster Bank are perennial low scorers. This year is no different with scores of 61% and 62% respectively. 

RBS holds this year’s unwanted record for the most two-star ratings (telephone service, account benefits, complaints handling, branch service and overall customer service).

Some customers gave RBS an average rating, stating that it’s an ‘average bank’, ‘OK, but not outstanding’, ‘nothing amazing’ and offers accounts with ‘no extra useful features such as interest on balance or a superior app’.

Others criticised it for branch closures and cuts to its cashback offer on Reward accounts.

About Which?'s bank account research

Which? Customer Score

Which?'s rating for customer satisfaction, based on feedback from real customers. The score is made up of a customer's overall satisfaction with the brand, and how likely they are to recommend that brand to a friend.

We surveyed 5,464 members of the general public about their current accounts in September 2020. 

Product score

We analyse dozens of different elements, including rewards and benefits, fees and charges, and how you can operate the account, to calculate a product rating score. 

Which? Recommended Provider status

A Customer Score over 70% makes a brand eligible for Which? Recommended Provider status, but we’ll only award this if its main current account achieves an above average product score.

It must also offer an account sitting in the top ten for at least two of the following: credit interest; cashback, rewards or other account benefits; an arranged overdraft.

As of 2019, we also expect banks to sign up to a new voluntary code known as the Authorised Push Payment Scam Code, launched on 28 May 2019. 

Several major banking brands are yet to sign up to the voluntary code, including Monzo, Tesco Bank, and Virgin Money. 

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