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18 Sep 2018

HSBC brings back £200 switching bonus: is it worth changing current accounts?

You'll need to meet certain conditions to qualify

HSBC has reintroduced its popular current account switching offer, giving new customers £200 when they open a HSBC Advance Account.

This bonus is the highest amount of cash currently being offered for switching, while several other banks have been rolling back their incentives.

The offer comes just as the Current Account Switching Service (CASS) marks its five-year anniversary.

The service works with 47 participating banks and building societies and helps individuals, small businesses and charities move to an alternative current account provider - so making a switch is easier than ever.

Which? looked into what the HSBC current account offers, and what other switching incentives are on the market.

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Should I switch to the HSBC current account?

Before you switch to a HSBC account, make sure you understand the limitations.

The offer is only available when you open the HSBC Advance Account. To qualify for this you must be able to pay in at least £1,750 into the account each month, for at least nine months a year - or £10,500 over six months.

If this money just comes from having your salary paid into the account, you'd need to be paid at least £21,000 a year after tax.

To make the switch, you'll have to use CASS to move over at least two direct debits or standing orders with a start date within 30 days of the day you open the account.

You'll also have to register for online and/or mobile banking.

After doing all this, you should qualify for the bonus. This is paid in two instalments: you'll receive £150 within the first 30 days of opening the account, and a final £50 after you've held the account for a year.

So, you'll have to make sure you're willing to stick with the account for at least 12 months if you want to take full advantage of the free cash.

You should also bear in mind that HSBC has taken this switching offer on and off the market several times already this year - in June, it was only available for around a month.

While no closing date has been announced this time, you still may need to get in quickly to take advantage.

What other switching offers are out there?

Earlier this year, we wrote about First Direct scrapping its £100 switching offer. But the bank has replaced the cash with the option to receive a pair of headphones worth £199, a £150 Expedia voucher, an Amazon Echo Spot, a course from Blue Mountain Training Solutions, a Fitbit or a Polaroid OneStep 2 i-Type camera.

To open this account, you must deposit £1,000 within the first three months of the account opening, and can't have been declared bankrupt or registered for an Individual Voluntary Agreement in the last six years.

You'll also get a £250 interest-free overdraft as standard.

What's more, if you decide to leave within six months which, presumably, the bank must be pretty confident you won't want to do, it'll pay you £100 as a 'goodbye present'.

Elsewhere, switching to the M&S Bank Current Account will get you a free £125 gift card, plus reward points when you shop in M&S. There's no minimum pay-in, and you also get a £100 interest-free overdraft.

What's more, you can get an extra £5 a month added to the gift card when you deposit £1,000 a month and sign up at least two direct debits. Doing this brings the overall bonus up to £185 over the first year.

The Halifax Reward Account switching offer gives you £75 as a bonus, and promises that you'll receive this by the time your switch completes - which is fast.

There are additional bonuses you can earn if you pay in at least £750 a month, remain in credit and pay out at least two direct debits. At the moment, that's £3 a month, but from October this will drop to £2 a month. We wrote about how these cuts will affect you earlier this year.

The best bank accounts to switch to

Switching incentives aren't the only thing you should take into account when choosinga new current account.

High interest

To maximise your cash, you could go for a high interest current account. The Nationwide FlexDirect account offers 5% AER interest on balances up to £2,500. However, you must deposit at least £1,000 a month and the high interest only lasts for 12 months.

Cashback rewards

If you tend to use your current account for every day spending, you could try a cashback account that rewards you for shopping.

The Barclays Blue Rewards account pays up to £7 a month in cashback, as well as extra cashback when you shop online through partner sites such as Clarks, Debenhams and Gap, plus additional cash rewards when you buy selected mortgages and insurance products.

However, you need to set up at least two direct debits from the account, and it costs £3 a month.

Accounts for bad credit

If you want a fee-free account, or you have a bad credit history, a basic bank account could be your best bet.

Nationwide's FlexBasic has a £500 ATM limit, can be opened online, in branch or over the phone and is available to those who have a poor credit history and have been declared bankrupt.

What's more, it's the only account in our table that doesn't charge a fee to make a payment via Chaps - which often costs £25 to £30.