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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? Who are the best and worst banks in 2018? Who are the Which? Recommended Providers? What's going on with TSB?
Who are the worst banks? 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 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 rate almost 40 standard (as in not paid for) bank accounts on offer from companies with a score to find our Which? Recommended Providers - the companies that offer great products and top-notch customer service. 

Who are the best and worst banks in 2018?

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

The table also includes star ratings for nine elements of the banks' service, including handling complaints, online and mobile banking and how clear they are with their charges. 

Not all banks appear in our table. That's because we need a minimum of 30 people to respond to our survey to generate meaningful ratings. We're always trying to increase our coverage. 

Provider undefined

 

Product
score
Customer
service
How they
communicate
with you
Transparency
of charges
Handling
complaints
Service
in branch
Telephone
banking
Online
banking
Mobile
banking
Value
for money

Recommended provider

undefinedFirst Direct

84% 83%

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

4 out of 5

Recommended provider

undefinedNationwide Building Society

76% 72%

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 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

undefinedVirgin Money

 

More info

Virgin Money gets a great customer satisfaction score, but has a below-average product score, and doesn't meet our criteria to be a Which? Recommended Provider. 

73% 60%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

-

-

-

-

-

-

5 out of 5

undefinedTSB

 

More info

TSB gets a great customer satisfaction score, and its accounts score highly in our product analysis - making it eligible for Recommended Provider. However, this survey was conducted before the online banking issues it experienced in May. Given the ongoing issues with the bank's IT system and online banking, we have refused to issue the award and believe the bank must do far more to resolve the issues its customers are currently experiencing. We have also decided not to publish star ratings for the bank's online and mobile banking services, as we do not feel these would be a fair reflection of what customers are currently experiencing. 

72% 66%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

- -

4 out of 5

undefinedSmile.co.uk

 

More info

Smile gets a great customer satisfaction score and has an above-average product rating from Which?, but doesn't meet our criteria to be a Which? Recommended Provider.

72% 69%

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

-

-

-

5 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

Recommended provider

undefinedM&S Bank
71% 85%

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

Recommended provider

undefinedThe Co-operative Bank

71% 71%

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedMetro Bank

 

More info

Metro Bank gets a great customer satisfaction score, but its account has a below-average product rating from Which?, meaning it does not qualify to be a Which? Recommended Provider.

71% 62%

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedDanske Bank 69% 58%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedYorkshire Bank 68% 72%

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

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedTesco Bank 68% 65%

3 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

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

undefinedBank of Scotland 67% 75%

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

3 out of 5

undefinedBarclays 67% 78%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedClydesdale Bank 67% 72%

3 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

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedNatWest 66% 78%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedLloyds Bank 66% 77%

3 out of 5

4 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

undefinedHalifax 66% 72%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedSantander 65% 71%

3 out of 5

4 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

4 out of 5

undefinedCitibank 64% N/A

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedHSBC 63% 68%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedUlster Bank 61% 74% 3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

undefinedRoyal Bank of Scotland 60% 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

5 out of 5

2 out of 5

undefinedBank of Ireland 59% 57%

2 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

4 out of 5

 

Sample sizes for our survey as follows: First Direct 295, Nationwide Building Society 390, Virgin Money 34, TSB Bank 300, Smile 38, M&S Bank 94, Co-operative Bank 296, Metro Bank 47, Danske Bank 36, Yorkshire Bank 146, Tesco Bank   196, Bank of Scotland 235, Barclays Bank 344, Clydesdale Bank 93, NatWest 388, Lloyds Bank 387, Halifax 390, Santander 382, Citibank 40, HSBC 381, Ulster Bank 39, Royal Bank of Scotland 244, Bank of Ireland 35.

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. 

 

Who are the Which? Recommended Providers?

First Direct

Perennial favourite First Direct has ranked at number one again, with a customer score of 84%.

Customers can use HSBC branches (its parent bank) to pay in and withdraw cash but most bank online, on their mobile or over the phone, and it earned five stars for each of these services.

First Direct is one of just threebanks to achieve five stars for customer service and the only bank to get five stars for dealing with complaints.

It shares deposit protection with HSBC so keep deposits under £85,000 across the two brands.

Nationwide Building Society

Britain’s largest building society achieved WRP status once again, with a customer score of 76%.

It received five-star ratings for customer service, how it communicates with customers, as well as both its online and mobile banking services.

And it’s committed to keeping its branches open, unlike many of the biggest high-street names. Find out which branches are closing using our unique bank branch tool.

It’s no surprise that Nationwide gained more current account switchers at the end of last year than any other bank or building society.

Many have opened a FlexDirect account which pays 5% interest on balances of up to £2,500 in year one (when you pay in £1,000 a month). After 12 months, the rate drops to 1%.

For a cheap arranged overdraft, we also rate both the FlexDirect (interest-free for one year) and the FlexAccount (interest-free for three months then 18.9%).

And FlexPlus is our top-scoring packaged account.

M&S Bank

Customers gave M&S Bank five stars for telephone banking and branch service (most M&S Bank branches are open whenever the stores are open, including evenings and weekends), bringing the customer score to 71%. 

The supermarket bank's main current account has a product score of 85% - easily the highest score of all the banks in our table - and offers a minimum £500 overdraft at account opening. 

Switch via the Current Account Switch Service to bag a £125 M&S gift card. And for 12 months following the switch, you earn an extra £5 each calendar month (added to your gift card) when you pay in £1,000 and keep two direct debits active. 

The M&S Bank Premium account is also eligible for the switching bonus, costing £10 per month for exclusive rewards and hot drinks vouchers. But for that money, you should consider a packaged account that offers insurance instead. 

The Co-operative Bank

Having narrowly missed out last year, we’ve chosen the Co-operative Bank to be a Recommended Provider, with a customer score of 71%. 

Customers were particularly impressed with the communication, and online banking service. 

There are better banks if you’re likely to use an arranged overdraft regularly, although it’s by no means the most expensive. 

But, one of the Co-op Bank’s stand-out features is ‘Everyday Rewards’ which can be added for free to any account except Cashminder, smile, Pathfinder and Student.

As long as you pay in £800, pay out at least four direct debits, and stay within your agreed overdraft limit, you’ll earn £4 a month.

An extra £1.50 is up for grabs when you spend on your Co-op debit card.

What's going on with TSB?

With a customer score of 72%, TSB was eligible to be a Recommended Provider but Which? closely monitors the products and practices of all banks and reserves the right to exclude any company that doesn't treat its customers fairly.

Following the recent IT migration that has led to chaos for its customers and an increase in fraud attempts, we felt that it was right to exclude TSB.

We believe it should be doing more to resolve ongoing issues with its IT system and online banking.

We have also decided not to publish star ratings for its online and mobile banking services, as we do not feel these would be a fair reflection of what customers are currently experiencing. 

Find out more about TSB's IT chaos and what you can do if you're affected. 

Who are the worst banks?

Some of the biggest banks sit at the wrong end of our table year after year. 

Bank of Ireland, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and its subsidiary Ulster Bank sit at the foot of our table in terms of customer satisfaction.

And big brands such as HSBC, Santander, Halifax, NatWest, Lloyds Bank and Barclays score below average in our latest survey.

Don't settle for mediocrity from your bank. Thanks to the Current Account Switch Service, you can vote with your feet and move to a new provider in just seven working days.

All of your existing payments are automatically swapped to the new account.

Should anything go wrong, you’ll be entitled to reimbursement, and any payments sent to your old account will be forwarded for at least three years.

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 5,023 members of the general public in March 2018.

Product score

We analyse 38 different elements of bank accounts, 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 of 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 and other rewards, an arranged overdraft.