HSBC, Monzo and Nationwide gained the most current account customers during 2019, according to data from Bacs.
There were more than 1m current account switches in 2019, according to the current account switching service (CASS), but it seems many people are heading to the same banks.
While Nationwide had a net gain of nearly 106,000 new current account customers during 2019, Monzo finished the year at the top of the switching table for the months of October to December, overtaking Nationwide for the first time.
At the other end of the scale, Barclays, Halifax, Santander and TSB have seen the biggest overall losses.
Here, Which? looks at why people have been switching and explains how you can move to a new current account if you want a new provider.
Which banks and building societies are we switching to?
The most recent data from Bacs shows the number of full account switches between 1 October and 31 December 2019.
Here’s how the banks and building society numbers changed:
Monzo was the biggest winner, with a total net gain of 20,843 – significantly more than Nationwide, which had the next highest net gain of 14,959.
However, Nationwide still managed to attract 36,558 new current account customers, likely due to the fact that savvy savers wanted to take advantage of its high-interest current account, which paid 5% AER on balances up to £2,500 for 12 months. Since 1 May, the account now only offers 2% AER on balances up to £1,500 for 12 months.
Almost 45,000 people switched to HSBC in the final quarter of the year.
Halifax saw the highest overall losses at the end of 2019, with a net loss of 22,130 and a total loss of more than 30,000 customers. The provider also saw some of the biggest losses throughout 2019.
One reason for this could be the withdrawal of its £135 current account switching incentive in June 2019.
Other banks that lost current account customers include RBS, Santander and TSB. Santander ended the period with 9,894 fewer current account holders, while TSB was down 9,106 and RBS lost 7,782.
- Find out more: best and worst banks
The most popular banks of 2019
We’ve also knitted together Bacs data for the whole of 2019 to show how providers fared over the whole year.
Nationwide certainly came out on top, with a 105,568 net gain. As we saw in the previous graph, its net gains may be showing signs of slowing – so we’ll have to see if the bank can keep up its reign in 2020.
While HSBC attracted the most customers overall – almost 200,700 switched to the provider during 2019 – it also saw the biggest losses as just over 137,000 moved elsewhere.
However, HSBC still finished the year in positive figures – something Halifax didn’t manage. The provider’s overall current account numbers were down by almost 70,000, which is far more than any other in the table.
Challenger banks won customers throughout 2019
Of the seven banks that made overall net gains in 2019, two of them were challenger banks – and their numbers are increasing.
Between January and March 2019, app-only banks Monzo and Starling had net gains of 7,292 and 5,233, respectively. But between October and December 2019, this had increased to 20,843 and 9,247, respectively.
Overall, this saw Monzo with net gains of 63,164 – almost neck and neck with HSBC – while Starling was up by 28,241, which is just a few thousand behind NatWest.
These slick new brands have attracted new customers through features such as their modern design, personalisation, low fees and speedy customer service.
- Find out more: challenger and mobile banks
Will the coronavirus affect switching?
We have seen all banks withdraw their switching incentives, and some accounts – such as First Direct’s current account – are currently closed to new customers.
It has also been more difficult for some people to open new accounts. Several branches have had to be closed, or have hours of operation reduced, due to staffing issues and to ensure social distancing measures can be followed.
Telephone services have also been busier than usual, with most banks asking that people only call if their query is urgent.
All of this could mean the next set of switching results will look quite different.
- Read the latest coronavirus news and advice from Which?
How to choose a current account
If you’re happy with the service you receive, you might go several years without considering switching your current account.
However, there can be some great benefits to switching, including perks such as bonuses or competitive savings rates that require a current account to be held with the same provider.
Each year, we survey thousands of current account customers and undertake detailed product analysis to find the best and worst banks.
Depending on what kind of account you’re looking for, our other guides can help you decide which accounts could suit your circumstances best:
- Best high-interest bank accounts
- Best accounts for cashback
- Best bank accounts for arranged overdrafts
- Best bank accounts for unarranged overdrafts
- Best packaged bank accounts
- Best basic bank accounts
Once you’ve decided which account you want to switch to, you can apply to open it. Give the current restrictions due to COVID-19, most banks are encouraging you to do this online.
If the provider is part of the current account switching service (CASS), you’ll be able to open the account in seven working days.
At the time of writing, CASS said that the service was still available during the COVID-19 crisis and was not expected to change.
- Find out more: how to switch your bank account