first direct app review September 2020

Manage your first direct accounts on the go, make Siri and Paym payments and view pending transactions with first direct's mobile banking app


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First Direct
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Since its founding in 1989, first direct has been at the forefront of innovation in the banking world. It launched the first Internet banking service in 2000 and in 2006 launched a mobile phone banking service, predating the invention of modern apps. Given its intriguing history with technological innovation, you’d think that first direct would be a major player in the mobile banking world. To see whether it is or not, we’ve had a look at its mobile banking app.

If you’re not a first direct customer, have a read of our other app reviews to find a banking app better suited to your needs.

How does the first direct app work?

To use the app, you need to be a first direct customer and have set up telephone security. If you aren’t registered, you can register by downloading the app and following the on-screen instructions. The app can link up to any first direct current or savings account of your choosing, allowing you to see balances and transactions for each account. You can also use the app to do the following:

  • View and delete direct debits
  • Make payments and transfers
  • Set up and amend standing orders
  • Make payments to a mobile phone number via Paym
  • Transfer money between first direct current and savings accounts
  • Generate security codes for Internet banking
  • See recent and pending transactions
  • Apply for first direct accounts
  • View messages
  • Set up and manage payees
  • View statements in PDF format

How do I apply for a current or savings account with first direct?

The easiest way to apply to open a new account with first direct is to go online. Go to the first direct website to open a sole or joint account, open a second account or switch your existing account to first direct.

Saving with the first direct app

In contrast to other banking apps, first direct’s app doesn’t offer a budgeting tool. However, the bank is planning to launch a second app entitled artha, which brings all of the user’s bank account details together in one place. Echoing Santander’s Wallet app, it’ll analyse users’ spending patterns and trends, suggesting ways for users to potentially save money, for example by changing energy provider.

first direct fees and limits

  • Every month that you hold a current account with first direct, except from the first six months, you’ll be charged a £10 banking fee.
  • If you use your card outside the UK, you’ll incur the non-Sterling transaction fee, which is 2.75% of the transaction.

Is first direct safe?

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is an independent statutory fund set up to safeguard consumer finances in the event of a bank being unable to meet its payment demands. first direct has full FSCS protection, which provides compensation for the loss of up to £85,000 – as is the standard for UK bank accounts.

Pros and cons of the first direct app


  • Get full access to current and savings accounts – you can receive your salary, make direct debit payments and bank transfers
  • Simple and secure log-in; can be done using your fingerprints or even your face
  • Easy to set up new payments
  • Payments can be made using just a mobile number – iPhone users can even use Siri to make payments
  • Unlike the majority of other mobile banking apps, first direct’s app works with “jailbroken” phones – though bear in mind that such phones tend to be less secure
  • Access to a wide network of bank branches if something goes wrong


  • Few extra features: while many other banking apps allow the user to order new PIN numbers, alert your bank that you’re going abroad and withdraw cash from an ATM, first direct’s app boasts no such features
  • There’s no budgeting tool built into first direct’s app, though the bank is planning to launch a separate budgeting app

Compare digital banking apps

Data indicated here is updated daily
Name Product Ratings Interest (AER) Arranged overdraft Key benefits Link Representative example
We say
You say
39.9% EAR variable
£125 when you switch
Go to site
Current account switch service guarantee badge
Plus earn 2.75% AER / gross interest with the linked HSBC Regular Sever
To be eligible for HSBC Advance, customers will need to pay in a minimum of £1,750 per month or £10,500 over 6 months and must qualify for a minimum £1,000 arranged overdraft. To be eligible for the £125 switching offer, customers must switch from a non-HSBC Group current account product. Other T&Cs apply. Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200, you’ll be charged interest at 38.9% (0% EAR variable on first £25, 39.9% thereafter).
We say
You say
39.94% EAR variable
Interest and fee free overdraft
for first four months when you switch
Go to site
Current account switch service guarantee badge
Up to 15% cashback at a range of major retailers
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.94% EAR variable.
We say
You say
15% EAR variable
Seamless easy switching within 7 days
Go to site
Current account switch service guarantee badge
No fees for spending or withdrawing cash overseas - currencies are converted at Mastercard’s standard exchange rate
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 15% EAR variable.
We say
Guaranteed acceptance plus a credit building feature
Go to site
Account fee of £5.95 per month.
We say
Guaranteed acceptance
Go to site
Current account switch service guarantee badge
Earn cashback on your purchases when you shop through the ThinkMoney rewards portal
Account fee of £10 per month or £15 per month.

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