First Direct has axed its popular £100 switching bonus for new customers, replacing it with a range of ‘gifts’, including tech, travel vouchers or online self-development courses.
The move makes First Direct the latest bank to end its cash switching offer, following NatWest and HSBC earlier this year.
Find out how First Direct’s new gift incentive compares with other offers on the market, and how you can find the best bank accounts.
What is First Direct’s new switching offer?
Until recently, First Direct offered new customers £100 to switch to its 1st Account, which also comes with a £250 fee-free overdraft.
This offer has now been withdrawn – instead, customers can choose from a range of ‘switcher gifts’. We explore their offers below.
There are more than 300 online courses from Blue Mountain Training Solutions on offer, with values ranging from £100 to £1,000.
The most expensive course currently available from Blue Mountain Training is called ‘Boost Your Business Fast With Marketing, Google Analytics and Social Media’, listed at £1,000.
Other courses include photography (£250) and a beer-brewing master class (£500).
Many of Blue Mountain Training Solutions workshops can be bought on discount sites like Groupon and Wowcher for much less than First Direct’s initial £100 switching offer.
Groupon, for example, previously listed an ‘Adobe Mobile Games Design’ course for £29, though it was originally listed for £300. Wowcher, meanwhile, previously listed an online Child Psychology course for £19, which was originally £200.
In response, First Direct told The Telegraph that the discounted courses would not be the same calibre as those offered to new customers.
If self-development courses don’t appeal, you may want to opt for a new gadget from First Direct’s range of gifts.
New technology on offer to switchers include Bose on-ear wireless headphones typically valued at £170, Bose Soundlink2 Bluetooth speaker typically valued at £150, an Amazon Echo Spot, Fitbit Charge 2 – Special Edition, and a Polaroid OneStep 2 i-Type Camera.
If you were already planning to buy one of these gadgets, this could be a great option. And in many cases, leave you better off than the original £100 offer.
But make sure you’re getting the right technology for your needs. While some of these products have been rated well by Which?, others have not achieved outstanding marks in our tests.
If you’re a Which? member, log in to read our product reviews before you rush to take advantage of the switching offer. Not a member? Try Which? for instant access to our independent reviews.
New customers can also choose opt for a £150 Expedia travel voucher as their switching gift.
This voucher will allow you to book package holidays, hotel bookings, or an activity through Expedia to the full voucher value, working out well above the previous switching offer.
Customers have to use the full voucher for one trip and won’t be able to split the credit across multiple bookings.
How can you claim your gift?
To get a gift, new customers have to switch to First Direct’s 1st Account using the Current Account Switch Service, and pay in £1,000 in the first three months of opening the account.
Switchers will be sent a code via email, which has to be registered on First Direct’s promotional website within 60 days.
After registering, customers then have 90 days to choose a gift.
- Find out more: Best and worst banks
How does First Direct’s switching offer compare?
While First Direct have changed to alternative incentives, other banks still offer cash perks to attract new customers.
Switch to Halifax for £75
Halifax is offering £75 as an incentive for new customers to switch to its Reward or Ultimate Reward accounts.
The Halifax Reward account pays £3 a month when you pay in £750, have two direct debits set up and stay in credit.
Customers can also get access to its Cashback Extras scheme which offers up to 15% cashback on spending with selected retailers in store and online.
The Ultimate Reward account includes perks, such as travel insurance, mobile phone insurance and breakdown cover, for a monthly fee of £15 – or £12 if you have two direct debits and set up and stay in credit.
But you’ll need to pay a monthly account fee of £15 (rising to £17 in July) so make sure the perks are worth the expense.
- Find out more: Best packaged bank accounts
Switch to M&S Bank for £185
M&S Bank is offering new customers of the M&S current account an M&S gift card worth £185.
The M&S Bank Account pays £5 a month as long as a minimum of £1,000 is paid into your current account and two direct debits.
Once you successfully switch, M&S will send you a £125 gift card and an additional £60 when you stay for 12 months.
- Find out more: Best accounts if you’re always in credit
Is the First Direct switching offer worth going for?
The real question to ask is whether First Direct’s 1st Account is the right one for you.
While switching offers can be a great in the short term, it’s important to make sure that the account you choose is best suited to your financial needs.
Shopping around and comparing deals is a great way to pick out the best bank accounts. It’s also worth considering the quality of customer service, so that your banking experience is as smooth as possible and you get the help you need.
For more help and tips on finding the right bank account for you, check out our guide on the best and worst banks.
*Updated 1 May 2018 to include more details about how the Expedia e-voucher can be used