Top current accounts to suit your lifestyle
Rachel Wait reveals the best current accounts to suit your needs...
When looking for a new savings account or credit card, you probably spend a fair bit of time considering what your needs are and what account or credit card suits those needs best. For example, you might ask yourself whether you need easy access to your savings. Or you might think about whether you're planning to spend on your credit card or simply transfer over a balance.
But when it comes to your current account, do you give it the same kind of consideration? Quite possibly not. But you should do. After all, current accounts can vary considerably, so it’s well worth taking the time to ensure you’ve applied for the one that suits your requirements best.
So here is a selection of current accounts to suit particular needs.
Best for earning a bit extra
Right now, I think it’s fair to say that nearly all of us are struggling to earn much interest on our savings. However, if saving is your priority, your current account can give you a helping hand.
For example, if you take out the Santander Preferred In-Credit Rate Account, you’ll earn an interest rate of 5% for the first 12 months – pretty impressive if you ask me!
What’s more, if you switch over to this account and transfer over your direct debits, you’ll also be given £100 in cash! Bear in mind you will also need to pay £1,000 into the account each month.
Alternatively, the Halifax Reward Current Account will give you £5 each month you pay in £1,000 – whether you’re in credit or overdrawn.
Best for customer service
Banks are well known for their poor customer service. So if you’ve had enough of your bank, why not open a current account that’s renowned for its excellent customer service?
If you’re wondering which account to choose, take a look at the First Direct 1st Account. First Direct has continued to prove it’s the king of customer service for lovemoney.com readers and it’s so confident you’ll be happy with your account that as well as giving you £100 to join, the lender will also give you £100 to leave if you’re not satisfied within 12 months.
Bear in mind that this account doesn’t pay interest and you’ll need to pay in at least £1,500 a month or hold an additional First Direct product, such as insurance. However, you’ll also be rewarded with a £250 interest free overdraft.
Find out the trick that all savvy savers know
Best for easy saving
If you struggle to put a bit aside each month, let your current account help you!
If you opt for a current account with Lloyds, such as the Lloyds Classic Account, you’ll be able to take advantage of the bank’s Save the Change scheme. Every time you use your Visa debit card to pay for something, Lloyds will round up the amount you’ve spent to the nearest pound and transfer the difference from your current account into an eligible Lloyds savings account.
Of course, this does mean that as well as having your current account with Lloyds, you will also need to have your savings account with Lloyds and that means you won’t necessarily be earning the best rate of interest on your savings. However, it’s still a handy tool to take advantage of if you’re not terribly good at saving.
Similarly, if you have the First Direct 1st Account mentioned above, you can take advantage of its sweep facility. Once a month, any spare cash left in your current account will be moved into a higher rate savings account. Again, this can be a great way of saving with minimal effort, but you may want to check the interest rate on your savings account to ensure it’s worth doing.
Best for overdrafts
If you’re prone to dipping into your overdraft on a regular basis, you don’t want to be racking up lots of interest for the privilege. So why not switch to an account where you can take advantage of an interest-free overdraft?
The Santander Preferred Overdraft Rate Account offers an interest-free overdraft for 12 months and says it will match your previous overdraft up to £5,000. Pretty good, right?
Just bear in mind you’ll need to pay in at least £1,000 a month to qualify and once that year is up, the interest rate jumps to 12.9%. What’s more, many lovemoney.com readers have reported problems with Santander’s customer service in recent months. So if customer service is your priority, you may be better off sticking with First Direct.
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Best for ethical consumers
If having a bank that’s ethical is important to you, take a look at the offerings from the Co-op. The Co-op works towards combating climate change, assisting communities and tackling global poverty. So if this is close to your heart, you may want to switch to a Co-op current account.
There are several to choose from, including the Standard Current Account, the Current Account Plus which offers a fee-free overdraft of £200 providing you pay in at least £800 a month, the Privilege Current Account and the Privilege Premier Current Account. Both of the Privilege accounts usually charge a monthly fee, but this is currently being waived for the first year (providing you apply by 20 November), and they both come with a range of benefits. You can read more about these in The account with the full package.
Best for benefits
And this leads me nicely onto packaged current accounts in general. In my opinion, packaged current accounts can be a bit of a rip-off because in many cases they charge you a monthly fee in return for a range of benefits that are not always worth it.
However, if you’re a keen traveller or fancy the idea of having breakdown cover and discounts on your home insurance, choosing a packaged current account might not be such a bad idea.
As I’ve already mentioned, both the Co-op Privilege Current Account and the Privilege Premier Current Account are actually fee-free for the first year if you apply by 20 November, meaning you can take advantage of the perks they come with, without paying for them. Benefits include UK and European motor breakdown assistance, worldwide family travel insurance, 20% off your home insurance, and mobile phone insurance.
However, don’t forget that once the first year is up, you’ll have to start paying £9.50 a month for the Privilege Current Account and £13 a month for the Privilege Premier Current Account. So if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, take a look at the Lloyds Silver Current Account which only charges £3 for the first two months, and £7.95 thereafter.
Although this account doesn’t include worldwide travel insurance, it does include European travel insurance, AA breakdown cover, and mobile phone insurance. So you’ll still get a decent array of benefits. (Just remember to weigh up whether you think paying a monthly fee for your benefits is really worth it.)
Alternatively, if you’re a regular traveller but you're not fussed about any of the other perks mentioned above, take a look at the Nationwide FlexAccount which includes European travel insurance, without the monthly fee!
Be warned, however, as always, it’s important to read the terms and conditions of any insurance policies carefully to ensure you’ll definitely be covered for what you need and that you won’t be affected by any exclusions.
Compare current accounts with lovemoney.com