Faster bank account switching is on its way
Published 28 November 2012 by Lucy Bower
The time it takes to switch bank accounts will come down to just seven days in September next year, making the process much simpler.
Switching bank accounts is going to become a great deal easier as of September next year, with new regulations that will bring the average switching time down from up to 30 days to a maximum of 7 working days.
You might think nothing of switching your utility bills, or your car insurance, but what about your bank account? Official figures in The Times suggest most people don't, and that on average people stay with the same bank for 26 years. Consider that the average marriage lasts less than 12 years.
However, when it becomes much simpler and faster to switch accounts in September next year, we could see more people 'divorcing' their banks and upgrading to a better model.
It's not just the time it takes to switch that puts people off. Many people worry that moving their account to another bank will damage their credit score, although research by Consumer Focus suggests this isn't the case for the majority of people.
Neil Munroe of credit reference agency Equifax clarifies that "the act of switching an account in itself won't affect your credit rating", but if you make lots of applications in a short space of time, that can suggest fraud or financial stress - which could impact on your score. And if you have an overdraft, missing your repayments would affect your score too.
A financial expert in The Times offers more advice to switching consumers. On overdrafts, it's advised: "it is worth taking some time to think through various scenarios and decide which (account) is best for you".
So, if you are regularly overdrawn, consider the fees you pay. If you are regularly in credit, consider whether you are earning much interest - although the report does add "when chasing the best rates, it is easy to forget the importance of good customer service".
It's also advised that "managing your money on the go" is easier with an account with a smartphone application or "one that offers text message updates on your balance" which can help you to "avoid penalties".
A spokesperson for thinkmoney commented: "If you have a bad credit rating that is making it difficult to find an account, there are alternative accounts you can apply for, such as the thinkmoney Current Account. There is no overdraft facility, and it comes with a personalised budgeting facility that helps people to manage their money - without credit.
"thinkmoney isn't a bank, but the account still has many of the features you would expect of a bank account, such as online banking - with additional extras like SMS balance updates and budgeting help from a team of expert Money Managers."
"If you would like to find out more, you can begin your online application here."