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12 Oct 2021

First Direct and NatWest launch new switching bonuses - should you get a new current account?

New customers stand to get a bonus of up to £150

NatWest and First Direct have each launched new bonus offers for current account customers.

While First Direct's incentive is just for new customers, NatWest is offering a bonus to both new and existing customers who switch and stay on several of its bank accounts.

Before you make the move, you'll need to make sure you're eligible and that the new accounts will suit the way you want to manage your bank account.

Here, Which? looks at what you need to do to qualify for First Direct and NatWest's switching offer, and how they compare to offers from other banks.

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How to get the NatWest switching offer

NatWest is offering £150 to new customers when they switch to NatWest's Select or Reward accounts, and existing customers if they change their existing current account to Reward Silver, Reward Platinum or Reward Black packaged accounts.

You must make the move using the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) by 5pm on 2 December 2021, log in to online or mobile banking through the NatWest mobile app and pay in at least £1,500 to the account by 11 February 2022. If you meet these conditions, £100 will be paid into the account.

You'll get the remaining £50 if you make 10 debit transactions per calendar month between 1 January 2022 and 30 September 2022. You'll receive the money by 30 November 2022.

The offer is only for those aged 18 or over, and you must not have received a switching offer from the NatWest Group (which also includes Coutts and Ulster Bank) since October 2017.

What do the NatWest accounts offer?

Before you make a move, make sure you know the costs and eligibility criteria involved with each of the qualifying current accounts that offer the switching bonus.

Select account

This is NatWest's fee-free day-to-day bank account.

Reward account

This account costs £2 a month, but you can earn £4 a month back in rewards if you have two or more direct debits set up from the account worth at least £2 each. You can earn another £1 a month when you log in to the mobile app at least once a month, and 1% cashback rewards when you spend with partner retailers including Caffu00e8 Nero and Europcar.

To be eligible for the account, you have to pay in at least £1,250 each month, which equates to annual earnings of £15,000.

Reward Silver packaged account

Existing customers can switch to this account to earn rewards in the same way as the Reward account, plus receive insurance cover for European travel, mobile phone insurance, fee-free debit card purchases abroad. The account costs £10 a month.

Reward Platinum packaged account

For £20 a month, existing customers can switch to this account to receive rewards, mobile phone insurance, UK car breakdown cover, worldwide family travel insurance, and fee-free debit card purchases abroad.

Reward Black packaged account

Finally, £31 a month gets existing customers worldwide family travel insurance, access to more than 1,000 international airport lounges with Dragon Pass Premier, a 24/7 concierge service, UK and European car breakdown cover, and the chance to get £9 a month back in rewards on two direct debits - they need to be at least £4.50 each. There's also the £1 a month reward for logging into the mobile app.

Finally, you'll also need to either have one of the following:

  • £100,000 sole income paid into the account
  • £120,000 joint income paid into the account
  • £500,000 minimum mortgage borrowing with NatWest
  • £100,000 savings or investments held with NatWest.

How to get the First Direct switching offer

To get the £100 switching bonus with First Direct, you need to switch to its 1st Account using the CASS and pay in at least £1,000 within three months of opening the account.

The offer is limited to one payment per customer or joint account, and you'll receive the money within 28 days of the criteria being met.

The bonus will only be paid to those who haven't had an account with First Direct or HSBC on or after 1 January 2018; you may hold an account with HSBC and qualify for the bonus if the current account was opened before this date.

How do these offers compare to other switching incentives?

Bank switching offers had been relatively thin on the ground following the coronavirus crisis, but in the past couple of months providers have ramped up their offerings.

RBS £150 switch and stay offer

If this offer sounds familiar, that's because it's exactly the same as NatWest's switch and stay offer. RBS has the same range of current accounts, and the bonuses will be paid on the same dates as eligible NatWest switchers.

But there is one important difference - this offer ends on 18 November 2021.

Santander £130 bonus

Santander is offering £130 to new and existing customers who switch their current accounts to its 123, 123 Lite, Everyday, Select or Private Current Account.

To get the bonus, you must complete the switch to one of the qualifying accounts within 60 days of requesting it. You'll also need to set up two direct debits, deposit at least £1,000 into the account and log in to your Santander account using online or mobile banking within this time.

The £130 is paid into the account within 30 days of the criteria being met.

HSBC £110 cash bonus plus £30 vouchers

Those who switch to HSBC's Advance or Premier Account can earn £110 in cash, plus £30 to spend with Uber Eats or the Dining Out Gift Card.

To qualify for the Advance account, you need to pay in £1,750 a month or £10,500 over six months, and be approved for an arranged overdraft or at least £1,000.

The Premier Account has other criteria, such as having an income of at least £75,000, and holding an eligible HSBC product.

Lloyds Bank £100 switching offer

New customers who open and switch to a new Club Lloyds or Club Lloyds Platinum Account can get £100 if they meet the eligibility criteria for both the bonus and the qualifying accounts.

Note that Club Lloyds costs £3 a month unless you pay in at least £1,500 a month; Club Lloyds Platinum is £21 a month but you'll get a £3 refund if you make a monthly deposit of £1,500.

Nationwide £125 incentive

Nationwide's offer has been around since August, offering £125 to existing customers, and £100 to new customers, if they move to its FlexAccount, FlexDirect or FlexPlus accounts.

Virgin Money £150 gift card

Rather than cash, those who switch to a Virgin Money current account can get a Virgin Experience Day gift card worth £150. The account pays 2.02% AER on the first £1,000, and it also offers fee-free spending and cash withdrawals oversees.

What to consider before switching your current account

Most people use and interact with their current accounts more often than other kinds of accounts, like savings. For this reason, it's important to make sure a new account will suit you before making a switch.

You might want to check whether or not you'll be able to manage the account in the way you'd like - for instance, if you like to talk to bank staff in-branch then an online-only provider might not be the best choice.

It's also worth checking a prospective provider's reputation for customer service, and whether it's signed up to the voluntary APP scam code to protect you from fraud.