Open a current account for chance to win £1,000
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We look into a prize offer from Norwich & Peterborough, and whether it's enough to make this a top-paying current account.
Norwich & Peterborough, the subsidiary of Yorkshire Building Society, is offering a £1,000 prize for opening a current account.
There is just one prize, sothe more people that take advantage of the offer before the closing date of 31st December, the less likely it is that you'll be able to bag the cash.
Norwich & Peterborough has close to 500,000 existing customers; no existing current account customers are allowed to enter the draw.
You have to transfer at least five regular payments from your old account. Joint account holders share prize money, so you might consider opening two separate accounts to double your chances.
About Norwich & Peterborough's current account
The bank has two current accounts, both of which can be run online.
Choose Gold Light if you can't pay in £500 per month but have at least five regular payments on your current account, or Gold Classic if you pay in at least £500 per month.
Both of these Norwich & Peterborough accounts come with the attractive benefit of free foreign overseas debit card usage. You get unbeatable exchange rates combined with no charges for overseas cash withdrawals or purchases. There is no cheaper way to pay your way when abroad.
A similar account
Only one other bank offers a debit card with the same terms, and that is Metro Bank, which is the first new high-street bank for about 100 years. It promises customer service like you've never seen before in a bank, with no sales pitches and long opening hours, seven days a week.
If you open a Metro Bank current account there are no strings attached: you don't have to transfer regular payments to it or pay in a minimum amount every month.
While you have to go in to a branch to open a Metro Bank account, you can still bank with it online. There are branches in London, Reading and High Wycombe, with many more planned to open over the next few years. It's part of the nationwide ATM network.
Other providers offer larger bribes
Other banks might not have the same level of customer service or trouble-free small print, but they bribe you with fistfuls of cash up front, or monthly rewards and interest. If you combine one of them with shopping around for foreign currency – search for “cheap travel money” in Google – these will normally work out a fair bit better than Norwich & Peterborough or Metro Bank in pure cash terms.
The exception is where you spend a huge amount of money abroad – probably thousands – or you spend a lot in obscure currencies, like Uruguayan pesos.
Here are the two top-paying accounts I can find:
First Direct – which also has a good reputation for service, highlighted by the fact it came top in this category in the 2012 Lovemoney Awards – offers a £100 bribe if you take out its 1st Account. Although it pays no interest, the bribe combined with shopping around for foreign currency should be a better deal for most people, even if you stick with the bank for two or three years. You have to pay in £1,500 per month though.
Halifax offers a £100 up-front bribe, plus it pays you £5 per month provided you pay in at least £1,000 that month with its Reward account, making it the best current account in financial terms for the majority of bank customers. In The most rewarding current account, I compared the Halifax Reward account to the Santander 123 account, which might be a better deal for some people who both have high bills and a legitimate reason to keep lots of cash sitting in their current account. (Note: that article doesn't mention the £100 bribe, because it wasn't being offered at the time.)
You might also be interested in Nationwide Building Society, because it's another one with high levels of customer satisfaction. Its bribe is more modest than Halifax's, being free, comprehensive European travel insurance for the account holder if you take out its FlexAccount.
The account also comes with a credit card that should be as cheap as Norwich & Peterborough overseas when making purchases (but not cash withdrawals), provided you pay off your bill in full. It also pays 0.5% cashback in the UK. However, you might be better off getting one of the other current accounts I've mentioned plus a credit card that pays more cashback. You need to pay in £750 per month to get the insurance and credit card.
Read The best cashback credit cards for more.
All of these accounts come with other features, but if I haven't mentioned them it's probably because they're suitable for too few people, or they're not as good as you can get by shopping around separately.
These “features” are normally just ways for banks and building societies to cross-sell you linked savings accounts, insurance products and foreign currency services, often by brandishing the word “exclusive”.
More on current accounts: