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12 Aug 2020

The Halifax £100 switching bonus is back: should you change your current account?

It's the only bank to offer a switching incentive since the coronavirus crisis hit

Halifax is the first bank to bring back its switching bonus, offering new customers £100 if they switch to its Reward current account or Ultimate Reward account using the Current Account Switch Service (CASS).

All providers withdrew their switching offers back in March, in order to help customers through the coronavirus crisis, but Halifax might well usher in their return.

The offer launched after CASS figures revealed 65% fewer current account switches took place between April and June 2020. While much of this drop can be put down to the effects of lockdown, it may also be because there were no incentives for customers to move to a different account.

Here, Which? looks at how you can get the Halifax offer and which banks people have been switching to over the past few months.

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How to get £100 for switching to Halifax

The biggest thing to note is that the switching offer is only available if you switch to Halifax Rewards current account or Halifax Ultimate Reward current account - so switching to the standard Halifax current account, student account or basic account won't get you the reward.

To open a Halifax Rewards account, you must:

  • Pay in at least £1,500 or pay £3 per month
  • Stay in credit at all times
  • Spend £500 or more on your debit card each month, or keep £5,000 or more in your account every day for a month.

In return, you can choose a monthly reward - either £5 cash, a cinema ticket, three digital magazines or two digital movie rentals - and you can earn up to 15% cashback through affiliated merchant offers.

A Halifax Ultimate Rewards account costs £17 a month, but it has all of the benefits of the Rewards account, as well as worldwide multi-trip family travel insurance, AA breakdown cover, mobile phone insurance, home emergency cover and card cancellation.

In order to get the £100 bonus, you must also:

  • Switch using the CASS
  • Have not received any other Halifax switching bonuses since April 2018
  • Begin the switching process on or before 14 September 2020.

Once your account is open, the £100 bonus will be paid in seven working days.

Which banks have people been switching to?

The most recent data from BACS shows the number of full account switches between 1 January and 31 March 2020; the UK coronavirus lockdown began in the last week of March.

Here's how the banks and building society numbers changed:

The results look quite different from the last switching figures that covered the period between 1 October and 31 December 2019, which saw Monzo retain the biggest net gains.

The challenger bank is still very much a success story here, with a net gain of 19,049, but it's been overtaken by both HSBC and Nationwide.

Both banks had attractive offers on at the time; HSBC had launched a £175 switching bonus at the start of January, while savvy savers were likely to be flocking to Nationwide for its FlexDirect account before its AER was slashed from 5% to 2% at the start of May.

Sizable gains were also won by NatWest, which launched a £211 switching bonus in February - but its 27,900 losses reduced the bank's overall net gains.

What other current account perks are on offer?

At the time of writing, no other banks are offering switching incentives - but there are other perks on offer.

Earn interest on your balance

Mentioned above, the Nationwide FlexDirect account is a high-interest current account that now pays 2% AER (despite the drop from 5% AER it still offers the top rate), but only for 12 months and only on the first £1,500.

After a year, your cash will only earn 0.25% AER, at which point you might want to switch again.

You'll also have to make sure at least £1,000 is paid in each month.

Get a packaged account

If the extra products offered with the Halifax Ultimate Rewards current account appeal to you, perhaps check to see if other packaged accounts offer a better deal.

The Nationwide Flexplus costs £156 a year, compared with £180 that you'd have to spend with Halifax, and achieved a higher account score from our expert analysis (87% versus 64%).

Earn cashback on what you spend

The main Halifax accounts both offer up to 15% cashback when you spend with certain retailers, but some other cashback accounts will also give you money back for all spending and even on bills.

While the Santander 123 account has become a less attractive prospect lately, due to rate cuts and future cashback changes, you can earn up to £15 a month through its cashback tiers on various bills and services, paying 1%, 2% or 3%.

But, of course, it's not all about the perks.

You're likely to engage with your current account much more than, say, a savings account, so you'll need to make sure that it works for you.

Before making the decision to switch, make sure that the account can be opened and managed in a way that suits you (is it online-only when you prefer to go in branch?), check out the provider's reputation for customer service and consider whether it's signed up to the APP code to protect you from fraud.