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27 Jan 2022

Revealed: the banks thousands are switching to

Could new offers of up to £150 tempt you to switch?

Nationwide and Starling Bank gained the most current account customers between July and September 2021, according to the latest data from Pay UK.

By contrast, HSBC, Tesco Bank and TSB saw the largest overall losses.

Here, Which? reveals the banks people are choosing to move to, the best new switching offers worth up to £150 to consider, and what else you should think about before moving to a new bank account.

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Which banks and building societies are we switching to?

The most recent data from Pay UK shows the number of full bank account switches between 1 July and 30 September 2021.

The graph below shows how customer numbers changed during this period for a number of banks and building societies - click on the tabs to see gains, losses and combined net gains of customers.

Source: Which? analysis of Pay UK data covering 1 July to 30 September 2021. Low Volume Participants comprises Arbuthnot Latham, C Hoare & Co, Coventry BS, Cumberland BS, Habib Bank Zurich plc, Hampden & Co, Investec, Reliance Bank, Spectrum Financial Group, Think Money Ltd, Unity Trust & Weatherbys Bank switches.

Nationwide saw the biggest net gains during this period, at 33,828. New customers may have been attracted by the £125 switching offer it launched in August 2021.

Starling Bank also proved popular, with a net gain of 15,371 - a similar picture to what we saw in the second quarter of 2021.

Other providers with positive net gains include Monzo (6,498), Santander (4,372), Virgin Money (3,377), Lloyds Bank (2,835), and Bank of Scotland (1,618).

In terms of attracting new customers, HSBC got the most with 45,310 slightly more than Nationwide's 44,612. However, these additions were outweighed by HSBC's 65,070 losses - more than any other provider in this period.

Tesco Bank saw the next-highest number of losses, at 19,710. This was likely due to its announcement in July, to say all Tesco Bank current accounts would be closed by 30 November 2021.

What switching offers are available now?

Several high street banks are offering switching incentives at the moment - but there are usually a few hoops you'll have to jump through to qualify.

NatWest offers a £150 switching bonus

New and existing customers can get £150 for switching to a qualifying NatWest account. New customers must switch to a Select or Reward account, while existing customers can choose from these, plus Reward Silver, Reward Platinum and Reward Black accounts.

To qualify for the switching bonus, you have to make the switch by 5pm on 7 April, and deposit at least £1,250 into the account and log in to the banking app before 12 May 2022.

Note that some of the qualifying accounts come with extra fees, rewards and eligibility criteria; for instance, the Reward Platinum account is a packaged account costing £20 a month, but comes with mobile phone and worldwide family travel insurance, car breakdown cover and fee-free debit card purchases abroad.

You can earn up to £5 a month with all Reward accounts if you set up at least two direct debits worth at least £2 each, and sign in to your mobile banking account at least once a month.

HSBC's £150 offer to new customers

If you switch to an HSBC Advance or HSBC Premier current account, you can get the £150 bonus if you deposit at least £1,500 within 60 days and transfer at least two direct debits or standing orders.

To get an HSBC Advance account, you'll need to be approved for an optional arranged overdraft of at least £1,000 - gauging your eligibility for this requires a hard credit check.

For the Premier account, you'll either need an income of at least £75,000 and hold either an HSBC mortgage, investment, life insurance or protection product; or HSBC savings or investments of at least £50,000; or hold and qualify for HSBC Premier in another country or region.

Get £140 to switch to Santander

Santander is offering £140 cashback to new and existing customers who switch to its 123 Current Account, 123 Lite Current Account, Everyday Current Account, Select Current Account and Private Current Account.

To get the bonus, you must pay in at least £1,000, set up at least two direct debits and log on to your Santander online or mobile banking within 60 days of making the switch request. The bonus is only for those who have never previously received a switching bonus from Santander, Cahoot or Cater Allen.

Bar the Everyday Current Account, all qualifying current accounts give the opportunity to earn up to £15 cashback per month on everyday bills and certain Santander financial products - but they also come with monthly fees and, in some cases, extra eligibility criteria.

£130 to switch to First Direct

One for new customers early, you can get £130 when you switch to a First Direct current account and pay in at least £1,000 within three months of opening the account.

Get up to £125 with Nationwide £125

New customers can get £100 for switching to Nationwide's FlexDirect account, while existing customers can get £125.

There's no minimum deposit requirement, but you'll need to switch over at least two direct debits to qualify - note that recurring card payments and standing orders won't count for this.

Virgin Money wine and gift card offer

If you complete a full switch to Virgin Money's Club M or M Plus current accounts, you can choose from either a £150 Virgin Experience Day voucher, or a luxury case of 12 Virgin Wines with a value of £150.

Both accounts pay 2.02% AER on balances up to £1,000.

Note that M Plus is a packaged account costing £14.50 a month. For that, you get mobile and gadget insurance, UK breakdown cover, worldwide family multi-trip travel insurance and fee-free foreign spending.

How to choose a current account

While many people are happy to stick with their current account for years, switching things up means you can benefit from a range of perks on offer - which aren't just limited to cash bonuses.

For instance, some accounts pay interest on your balance, some are linked to savings accounts with preferential rates, and some offer cashback on your purchases.

Of course, the promise of perks shouldn't be the sole basis of your decision; your current account should suit your circumstances and preferences - for instance, a mobile-only bank account wouldn't suit someone who prefers to go into a bank branch.

It's also worth seeing how a potential new provider fares in terms of customer service and security; every year we research the best and worst banks where you can see how dozens of banks have been rated.