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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
How do I find the best bank? Best and worst banks revealed A closer look at the Which? Recommended Providers  Starling Bank  First Direct 
Nationwide Building Society Worst banks for customer satisfaction Accessible banking services About Which?'s bank account research

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 or building society 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.

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 undefined Product Score Customer Service Communication Transparency of charges Handling complaints Service in branch Telephone banking Online banking Mobile app Benefits

Recommended provider

Starling Bank

85% 73%

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

- - - -

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Monzo Bank 83% 64%

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

- - - -

5 out of 5

-
Triodos Bank 83% 57%

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

- - -

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

-

Recommended provider

First Direct

82% 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

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

Revolut

 

More info

Revolut operates under an e-money licence not a banking licence in the UK, so your money is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

78% N/A

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

- - -

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Metro Bank 77% 65%

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

-

Recommended provider

Nationwide Building Society

75% 75%

5 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

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

Cumberland Building Society 73% 53%

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

- -

4 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

- -
Smile 72% 63%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

- - -

4 out of 5

-

2 out of 5

The Co-operative Bank 70% 57%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

Halifax 67% 77%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

NatWest 67% 78%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

Santander 66% 76%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

Lloyds Bank 66% 80%

4 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

4 out of 5

Barclays Bank 65% 81%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

Bank of Scotland 64% 77%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Virgin Money 63% 70%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

TSB 59% 67%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

HSBC 57% 75%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

Royal Bank of Scotland 56% 78%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

 

Table notes: We surveyed 4,438 members of the general public in September to October 2021. Sample sizes for our survey as follows: Bank of Scotland - 87, Barclays Bank - 383, Cumberland BS - 60, First Direct - 168, Halifax - 367, HSBC - 362, Lloyds Bank - 455, Metro Bank - 82, Monzo Bank - 81, Nationwide - 414, NatWest - 440, Revolut - 79, Royal Bank of Scotland - 117, Santander - 440, Smile - 80, Starling Bank - 83, The Co-operative Bank - 112, Triodos Bank - 75, TSB - 136, Virgin Money - 250
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 

These are the current account providers which have both satisfied customers and excellent products:

Starling Bank 

Starling made a strong debut in our rankings in 2019, taking second place. It had top spot with a score of 88% in 2020 and again tops the table in 2021 with a score of 85%. Starling is therefore once more named a WRP.

Customers praised its 'helpful' and 'prompt' staff as well as its mobile app for being 'easy to use' and 'leagues ahead' of other banks'. Instant notifications of payments in and out, free debit card spending abroad, and 'saving spaces' (virtual piggy banks) are also popular. 

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

Its website was included in our latest online banking security test and earned the top score of 85%. This was partly due to limited functionality (customers mainly operate their accounts from the smartphone app) but our independent experts found nothing concerning. 

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 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 is once again a WRP in 2021, with its score increasing to 82% from 79% the previous year.

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 (three 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 1% AER (was 2.75%) for a year. 

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

Nationwide Building Society

After missing out last year, Nationwide regained its WRP status this year. 

Five-star ratings were achieved for its customer service, as well as its telephone and online banking services.

Its FlexDirect current account pays 2% interest on £1,500 for a year (then pays 0.25%) and offers an interest-free overdraft for a year (then 39.9% APR). Its FlexPlus packaged account is also highly rated.

Nationwide is a building society or mutual, which means that it is owned by its members.

It's the only WRP with a branch network, though First Direct customers can carry out some tasks at HSBC branches. Nationwide has a branch promise stipulating that if it currently has a branch in your town or city, it will still be there until at least January 2023. 

 

What about Monzo, Triodos Bank, Metro Bank and Revolut?

 

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

Metro Bank and Triodos Bank achieved excellent customer scores but their product scores were below average, preventing them 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.

 

M&S Bank - no longer offering current accounts

 

M&S Bank was previously a Which? Recommended Provider of current accounts for 2020-21.

However, in March 2021 they announced they would cease offering current accounts and existing accounts would be closed by summer. In-store banking services will also end.

If you're affected, you can find our guide to switching banks here.

Bear in mind that M&S Bank customers are usually excluded from the switching bonuses sometimes offered by First Direct and HSBC.

Worst banks for customer satisfaction

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is bottom of the table in 2021 with a score of 56%, down from 61% the previous year. 

RBS recorded two-star ratings for transparency of charges and service in branch. Disgruntled customers referred to branch closures and a lack of 'tangible benefits'. Others gave it an average rating and said it is 'nothing special', 'doesn't offer much', or is 'not as good as they can be'. 

HSBC (57%) and TSB (59%) also scored less than 60% to form the bottom three banks along with RBS.

Accessible banking services

If you’re one of the 14.1 million people in the UK with a disability, your bank should make services as accessible as possible. 

In May 2021, we surveyed 1,494 Which? Connect panel members and panel members of the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers about their current account providers. Our unique survey revealed that while some banks go above and beyond to help disabled customers, others are barely meeting minimum standards.

First Direct came out on top of our table, with 95% of disabled customers in our survey saying they’re fairly or very satisfied with the service. Nationwide came second (87%) and was the top-rated provider with a branch network. Despite being parent bank to First Direct, HSBC received the lowest score (62%), followed by TSB (65%). 

Banks have a legal obligation under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for disabled customers. You should never be asked to pay for these. Some simple steps can help make life easier for disabled customers – but which banks offer them?

 

Chip and signature cards

 

If you have dexterity issues or find it difficult to remember a Pin, banks must offer a chip and signature card instead (they should also provide a signature stamp).

 

Accessible debit card

 

These are designed to help blind and partially sighted people. A notch shows which end to insert in cash machines or card readers.

Available on request at Barclays and NatWest Group. Offered to Bank of Ireland and First Direct customers as standard. Nationwide started rolling them out in June 2021, HSBC said they’ll be available from August 2021. 

 

Voice-enabled card readers

 

If your bank requires a card reader to generate online banking security codes, ask for an accessible version. AIB (NI), Barclays, Nationwide and NatWest Group currently offer these. 

 

SignVideo

 

Most banks offer this British Sign Language interpreting service, except AIB (NI), Bank of Ireland UK, Danske Bank, Metro Bank, Monzo, Starling and The Co-operative Bank. Monzo has been exploring sign video support options and is hoping to bring this to the app soon. Starling said customers can use in-app chat to talk to customer service staff 24/7. 

 

Relay UK

 

This text-to-speech app works with your mobile or tablet. Most banks can accept Relay UK calls (this isn’t yet available at First Direct and Metro Bank).

 

Talking ATMs

 

These let you plug in standard earphones and follow the audio instructions. See link.co.uk/consumers/locator for your nearest one.

 

The Sunflower Scheme

 

A sunflower lanyard, sticker or card will let branch staff know you may need more support or extra time.

Danske Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide and TSB have committed to the scheme.

 

Cards for carers

 

Santander, Starling and NatWest Group have launched cards for carers.

Carers will have their own Pin and can shop for you without having full access to your account.

 

Confidential markers

 

Banks should be able to add a discreet note to your account so staff know of your disability when you call or visit a branch. Nationwide said it can offer a contact point for customers who need extra support.

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 4,438 members of the general public about their current accounts in September and October 2021. 

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 10 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. 

Find out more: is your local bank branch closing?

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