lovemoney Awards 2013: best current account provider

Find out which bank or building society got most votes for its current accounts this year.

First Direct is your favourite current account provider, scooping top spot in the 2013 lovemoney Awards from the Co-operative Bank’s Smile. Santander rounds out this year's top three.

First Direct had previously won our current account crown in 2011 and its 1st Account is a consistent award-winner across the board.

Here’s how this category was decided this year.

Interest rate

Winner: Santander

You were pretty scathing in your assessment of banks’ interest rates, which is somewhat ironic as seven accounts are paying better rates than the top instant access savings account. For example, Nationwide’s FlexDirect account is paying 5%, albeit only for a year, on balances of up to £2,500. However, the lack of longevity in the rate (it reverts to 1% after 12 months) clearly won out when it came to voting.

So Santander was the only bank to come out with a decent score. Its 123 account pays up to 3% interest on balances up to £20,000 permanently, plus cashback on some household bills if you make it your main account, offering a pretty hassle-free way to earn a decent rate on your money.

Overdraft rate

Winner: Nationwide
Runners-up: First Direct and Smile

Free current account overdrafts have slowly disappeared, with a few exceptions. Nationwide is one of those exceptions, as its FlexDirect account offers a free overdraft for a year.

Meanwhile, First Direct's 1st Account offers a £250 fee-free buffer, while Smile has a fee-free overdraft of £500 available to its customers for the first 12 months they have an account.

Charges and fees

Winner: Smile
Runners-up: Cahoot and First Direct

Smile’s fees aren’t the cheapest, but at least they are straightforward. The same applies to Cahoot, now part of Santander, and First Direct.

Customer service

Winner: First Direct
Runners-up: Co-operative Bank and Smile

First Direct won this section hands down for the third year in a row. In a truly horrific year for the Co-operative, the runners-up spots secured by both the bank and its Smile subsidiary might provide some tiny crumbs of consolation. But with the Co-op ending its £15 Service Level Guarantee to customers in September, it’ll be interesting to see how it fares next year.

Compare current accounts

More on current accounts:

Best buys that are only for banks and building societies' existing customers

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks launch 4% interest-paying current account


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