In July 2019, we ran a customer satisfaction survey on current accounts. 1,000 people answered and told us how happy they are with their current account provider. We’ve turned their answers into a rating of one to five. Here’s the full list of providers we’ve considered, and how they’ve scored.
Monzo is by far the most popular digital-only bank in the UK – apparently for a good reason. New features are constantly being added to its app-based current account, that comes with a bright “coral” (pinkish) debit card.
Revolut’s multicurrency digital account is great for travelling and even better for sending money abroad. You can exchange and hold 29 different currencies for free and also use it as a standard UK account.
The last building society that does banking on a national level, Nationwide offers a good range of current accounts that come with great incentives and perks, from a switching bonus to interest paid on your balance to insurance options.
Barclay’s current accounts aren’t half bad. They come with the option of earning rewards at selected retailers. Plus, it’s Barclays – for people who like sticking with the big brands, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Known for providing great customer service on the phone 24/7, First Direct only offers one current account option, but it’s a very solid one. And there’s also a switching incentive to make it more appealing.
Another big bank that got a solid score in our survey. Lloyds’s bank accounts suit a wide range of needs, the banking app is not too bad for a traditional bank and there’s also the opportunity to earn interest on your balance.
One of the few challenger banks that also has a good network of branches, Metro Bank offers only offers one current account, whose top feature is that it doesn’t charge you for using the card or withdrawing cash in Europe.
Still fairly new to the UK market, German challenger N26 offers a pretty straightforward mobile-only current account with a slick app. It’s also working on bringing its most advanced features, such as overdrafts, to the UK.
NatWest has one of the top switching incentive on the market, and you can choose between free and rewards accounts. If that sounds appealing but you’re still unsure, you’ll be glad to hear that it also got a decent score in our survey.
Another straightforward digital-only account that’s especially good for travellers or people who often have to change country, Monese lets you open a euro account side by side with your UK one, for free.
Royal Bank of Scotland is Natwest’s Scottish little sister. Just like its sibling, it also offers a competitive switching incentive and a very solid selection of rewards accounts featuring cashback on your bills.
So, are these the best current accounts available on the market?
Well, yes and no. These are the current accounts its customers are most satisfied with. Our customer satisfaction survey asked account holders whether they would recommend their account to a friend and how they would rate it from one to five.
So, a good result on the survey does mean that many people think a certain account provider does a good job. What it does not mean is that that same account provider is good for everyone.
For example, challenger banks Monzo and Starling top the survey, but if you like going to a branch and discussing your banking options in person, or having loads of different current accounts to choose among, you’ll be disappointed. It’s all about figuring out your banking style and ultimately choosing the account that’s best for you, not for anyone.
To be eligible to open a current account, you must be a legal UK resident, and at least sixteen years old. Some banks may stipulate that you must be eighteen if you don’t have parental approval. You may also need to be credit checked – this is because many current accounts will come with an overdraft that may be reduced if you have a poor credit history.
Which bank account should I choose?
Before you answer this question, you should ask “what do I need from my bank account?”
Are you looking to put a bit of money away each month?
Do you want to put some money away and restrict access to it?
Are you after rewards or hoping to maximise interest?
Work out what you need before comparing the options.
4 key bank account features to compare
Sifting through small print can take forever. For those of you with better things to do, finder.com/uk have put together tables, lists and guides which allow you to make the right decision quickly. Here are a few of the main things to look out for when comparing bank accounts:
1. Interest rates
This one is important. Getting the highest interest rate will mean your money will work harder for you.
2. Small fees (preferably none)
Most banks nowadays don’t charge a monthly fee for maintaining accounts. But you should check. If you’re currently paying a monthly fee, then you need to assess whether the account is worth it.
This also applies to penalty fees. If you think you’re likely to end up in your overdraft, then pick an account which will allow that. Don’t end up stuck in account which penalises you every time you dip into the overdraft.
3. Access to your cash
This depends on your preferences and personal savings goals. While many savings account allow you almost instant access, some require that you plan ahead and give advance notice of withdrawals.
Some accounts offer rewards and benefits in the form of shopping vouchers, exclusive rates or products. If this sounds up your street then take a look at the accounts which offer these sort of extras.
Who are the ‘big four’ banks in the UK?
Barclays is a multinational banking and financial services based in London. It is a universal bank with operations in retail, wholesale and investment banking – as well as wealth management, mortgage lending and credit cards. Barclays has operations in more than 50 countries and territories with around 48 million customers.
HSBC is another multinational banking and financial services company also headquartered in London. It is the world’s sixth largest bank by total assets and the largest in Europe.
Lloyds Banking Group
Lloyds Bank is a retail and commercial bank with branches across England and Wales. The bank was founded in Birmingham in 1765. It expanded during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and took over a number of smaller banking companies.
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), is one of the retail banking subsidiaries of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, together with NatWest and Ulster Bank. The Royal Bank of Scotland has around 700 branches, mainly in Scotland though there are branches in many larger towns and cities throughout England and Wales.
Digital banking trends in 2019: Finder UK talks to N26, Money Dashboard, Starling and Revolut
Charlie Barton is a publisher at Finder. He specialises in banking and investments products, including banking apps, current accounts, share-dealing platforms and stocks and shares ISAs. Charlie has a first-class degree from the London School of Economics, and in his spare time enjoys long walks on the beach.
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