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19 Jul 2019

Current account switching bonuses disappear: is it still worth changing?

Halifax is not offering a switching bonus for the first time in nearly six years

Are you hoping for a cash reward when you switch to a new current account? You better move quickly. From Monday, only one provider will offer new applicants a cash incentive for moving their bank account.

NatWest's leading £175 offer ended last week, while HSBC's bonus is due to expire on Monday. Halifax, meanwhile, is no longer offering switchers a cash reward for the first time since the Current Account Switching Service launched in 2013.

Yet the disappearance of sign-up incentives could be an opportunity to weigh-up the benefits of various current accounts.

Which? takes a look at the switching offers that have recently been pulled and how the long-term benefits of current accounts compare.

HSBC £175 switching bonus deadline looming

HSBC's range of switching offers will end on Monday 22 July, so time is running out if you want to apply.

The bank is currently offering £175 to people that open the HSBC Advance Account or £75 for a HSBC Bank Account.

Those switching to the HSBC Premier Bank Account can get a one-night stay for two guests at a choice of 50 luxury hotels worth £330 on average.

The HSBC Advance account also offers access to a preferential rate on the HSBC Regular saver account, amounting to 5% AER for 12 months, plus exclusive access to offers and discounts.

HSBC achieved a Which? Customer Score of 67% in our latest bank satisfaction survey, which was below average compared with other providers.

Halifax pulls £135 cash bonus

Halifax quietly pulled its £135 switching incentive last week.

To benefit, you had to open the Halifax Reward or Ultimate Reward account or switch an existing account in full.

You were paid £50 when you used the Current Account Switch Service to close your old account and move your standing orders and direct debits to the new or existing Halifax account.

The remaining £85 was paid after you held the account for six months.

Halifax confirmed that the switching incentive ended on 25 June.

We asked Halifax if it had plans to bring back the switching offer, but a spokesperson said: 'We continually review our product range and make changes where appropriate. We continue to focus on providing innovative products and high standards of customer service.'

NatWest £175 'Switch and Stay' offer ends

NatWest withdrew its £175 'Switch and Stay' incentive on 7 June.

It was the biggest incentive the bank had ever offered - £125 would be paid when you first switched and a further £50 once the account had been open for a year.

The offer applied across its range of accounts, including the Everyday Select, Reward, Reward Silver, Reward Platinum, Premier Reward and Premier Reward Black.

When we asked NatWest whether it bring back its switching offer, it plans for a new incentive would launch in the next few months.

The best switching bonuses left

First Direct is still offering a £100 switching bonus to new customers that move to its 1st Account. Indeed, after the 22 July, it will be the only bank to offer a cash switching bonus.

First Direct is a Which? Recommended Provider and achieved a Which? Customer Score of 85% in our latest bank satisfaction survey.

The 1st Account comes with a £250 fee-free overdraft. Although it's an online account, you can use HSBC branches to pay in and withdraw cash.

M&S Bank is the only other provider offering an incentive - but you'll have to settle for vouchers rather than cash.

You can get a £180 M&S gift card when you switch to M&S Bank and stay.

You earn £100 when you switch your account using the Current Account Switch Service and another £80 when you when you stay for 12 months.

M&S Bank is another Which? Recommended Provider and achieved an impressive customer score of 75% in our latest survey.

The supermarket bank's main current account comes with a £100 interest-free overdraft and loyalty points on spending at M&S.

Short-term incentives vs long-term benefits

While it's a shame to see generous switching offers vanish, it's worth taking a closer look at what the major current accounts offer and how they stack up on long-term benefits.

A current account that offers interest, for example, could earn you much more over the years rather than a one-off cash bonus.

The Santander 123 Current Account, for example, offers 1.5% AER on balances up to £20,000, while the TSB current account offers 3% AER on balances up to £1,500.

The table below sets out the short-term and long-term benefits of the major providers' most popular accounts.

Current accountShort-term benefitsLong-term benefits
HSBC Advance

£175 switching bonus (until 22 July)

Access to HSBC Regular Saver paying 5% AER for 12 months

Exclusive access to offers and discounts
First Direct 1st Account

£100 switching bonus

Access to First Direct Regular Saver paying 5% AER for 12 months

£250 interest-free overdraft

Exclusive access to First Direct products

Nationwide Flex Direct

5% AER fixed interest on balances up to £2,500 for the first 12 months

12-month interest-free overdraft

1% AER variable interest on balances up to £2,500 after first 12 months

Exclusive access to 'Flexclusive' Nationwide products

NatWest Reward***

2% cashback on household bills

1% cashback rewards when spending with selected retailers

TSB Classic Plus

3% AER interest on balances up to £1,500

£35 interest-free overdraft*

Santander 123**Four-month interest-free overdraft*

1.5% AER credit interest on balances up to £20,000

1-3% cashback on household bills

Up to 15% cashback when you shop with selected retailers through Retailer Offers scheme

Preferential deals on savings and more through 123 World

Halifax RewardSix-month interest-free overdraft*

£2 monthly bonus when you meet certain criteria

Up to 15% cashback when you shop with selected retailers through Cashback Extras scheme

*Subject to status **£5 monthly fee applies ***£2 monthly fee applies *****Monthly fees apply.

How to switch your current account

If the perks you signed up for have been withdrawn, or you aren't satisfied with your bank's customer service, it might be worth switching your account.

Banks and building societies that are signed up to the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) can switch your account in seven working days.

The system takes care of moving all your standing orders and direct debits to your new account and closes your old one down for you.

Find out more how to switch your current account in our guide to CASS or check out our 90-second video below.