More than a million Brits ‘ditched and switched’ banks last year

Written by Lori Campbell on 24th Jan 2020

More than a million current account customers ditched and switched provider in 2019, new figures show.

Some 1,002,029 switches took place last year using the Current Account Switch Service (Cass). This is the highest total since 1,010,423 made the move in 2016. Only five banks ended up better off after almost 220,000 people switched to a new current account in just three months at the end of last year.

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Since the seven-day switching service launched in 2016, 6.3 million moves have been completed, 260,000 of which took place between October and December 2019. The service aims to take the hassle out of moving to a different bank or building society, swapping payments over automatically to the new account. It can be used by individuals, small businesses and small charities.

As the climate crisis worsens, the need for a different kind of banking becomes even greater.

In the third quarter of 2019, Nationwide Building Society gained the most customers using Cass, with 25,355 joining up. But in terms of ratio, digital bank Monzo came out on top. While Nationwide gained 2.7 customers for every person that left, Monzo saw 18 people join for each leaver.

Ethical bank, and Good With Money ‘Good Egg’, Triodos was also among the current account switching ‘winners’ – with almost ten new customers for every person quitting.

Bevis Watts, chief executive of Triodos Bank UK, said: “The demand for our current account and Triodos’ overall relevance has continued to grow steadily in the past year. As the climate crisis worsens, the need for a different kind of banking becomes even greater.”

Triodos was recently shortlisted for British Bank of the Year at the British Bank Awards 2020, reflecting the rise in demand for ethical banking.

HSBC made big gains from customers moving to it, as did digital challengers Monzo and Starling Bank. However, banking giants including Halifax, Lloyds Bank, NatWest and RBS all saw more customers using Cass to switch away than join up between July and September last year.

The new figures, provided voluntarily by the banks, do not include switches made by customers who did not use the Cass service.

Over the past three years, of those over the age of 45 who switched, 75 per cent used Cass, as did 41 per cent of under-25s.

Many banks have recently announced changes to their overdraft charging structures as they prepare to comply with new rules from the regulator which come into force from April.

The changes, which will make overdraft pricing clearer and easier to compare with what other banks are offering, may prompt a further wave of people looking to move to a current account that is more suitable for their needs.

Matthew Hunt, chief operating officer of Pay.UK, which owns and operates Cass, said: “Although switching figures are increasing, there are still many people who could be taking advantage of the opportunities presented by moving their current account.

“This is particularly true of those in younger age groups and those considered financially vulnerable. We work to bring the benefits of switching to all by making it easy and hassle-free, allowing people to move to an account which works better for them, whatever their financial situation.”

Net gains and losses made by banks from customers using Cass between July 1 and September 30 2019:

Nationwide, 25,355

Monzo Bank, 21,576

HSBC (includes First Direct and M&S Bank brand switches), 17,204

Starling Bank, 7,075

Triodos Bank, 409

Ulster Bank, minus 332

Danske, minus 398

Bank of Scotland, minus 582

AIB Group UK (includes First Trust Bank and Allied Irish Bank GB brand switches), minus 732

Barclays, minus 1,104

Bank of Ireland (includes Post Office brand switches), minus 2,433

Santander, minus 2,486

RBS (includes Adam & Company, Coutts and Isle of Man brand switches), minus 5,122

Clydesdale Bank (includes Yorkshire Bank brand switches), minus 3,455

Co-operative (includes Smile brand switches), minus 4,183

Tesco Bank, minus 4,510

Lloyds Bank, minus 8,076

NatWest, minus 9,885

Halifax, minus 15,714

TSB, minus 4,834