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Regulator criticises packaged bank accounts

FSA says they can offer poor value

An new FSA report warns that product bundling can create risks for consumers and suggests packaged bank accounts don’t always represent good value for money.    


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The financial services authority (FSA) says that 15% of UK adults now have some form of packaged account and that consumer detriment could occur across a large population as a result. 

Bank accounts and insurance risk

Packaged accounts normally charge a monthly fee and provide free insurance products for bank customers. These can include travel insurance, mobile phone insurance and life insurance

The FSA warns that some account holders may find that ‘where the add-ons are insurance products, they do not provide the expected level of cover’. Breakdown insurance, travel insurance and life insurance may be better purchased individually, providing more extensive cover and meeting a particular customer’s requirements. 

Poor value

As well as raising doubts about the level of cover they provide, the FSA questions the value of packaged accounts, observing that, ‘consumers could be better off purchasing products individually or not at all’. This is what Which? found when we assessed packaged accounts. Many account holders do not use the full range of extra services they are entitled to. We also queried the value of mobile phone insurance or extended warranty cover, which some packaged accounts offer.

Fee-free bank accounts

While packaged accounts are heavily promoted by banks, the FSA makes it clear that they have not replaced traditional fee-free accounts. In a ‘key message’ section, the report says that ‘firms should make it clear to consumers that they need not purchase a packaged account’. Which? recommended current account providers, such as First Direct, Smile,  the Co-operative Bank, Cahoot and Nationwide all offer fee-free accounts, although some require a minimum monthly deposit.

If your account charges a high fee for extras you don’t use, you could be better of switching to another bank.

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