Last September, the Payments Council's Current Account Switch Service came into effect.
It allowed people to switch their bank accounts more quickly than ever before, and resulted in banks and building societies wheeling out ever-more-tantalising offers to entice consumers to move.
Since then, more than half a million people have changed current accounts using seven-day switching, and all the signs suggest that many more will be joining them.
Marks & Spencer is launching a brand-new current account this summer, which is free to use if you’re in the black (the retailer-turned-bank previously only offered paid-for accounts).
Meanwhile, TSB has just launched a current account offering 5% interest on balances up to £2,000 (and providing you pay in at least £500 a month), a return practically unheard of in recent years. Elsewhere, Santander’s paid-for 123 deal is just one of several accounts which offers cashback thrills galore, if you meet the account's other terms and conditions.
"The number of people changing their current accounts since seven-day switching came into effect has been encouraging rather than spectacular," says Matt Sanders, banking expert at Gocompare.com.
"But with the battle on interest rates and rewards heating up, plus the odd exciting new entrant to the marketplace, there should be a lot more cause to start to think about your current account over the next few months.
"There are still a few current accounts offering switching bonuses, some are paying more interest on cash balances than many savings accounts and others are going down the route of rewards and discounts depending on where and how you spend your money.
"This all means that it’s really important for customers to make sure their spending habits and current account use match the criteria for their chosen account to get maximum return from their provider."
Top tips for switching current accounts
Switching current accounts is easier than ever, but there are still a few factors to be mindful of.
Identify your needs
The wonderful world of current accounts is certainly diverse. From basic free accounts to paid-for ones which offer rewards and extras, make sure you decide what’s right for you. If you’re prone to going into the red, make sure that your account offers a relatively cheap overdraft facility. If you’ve got plenty in the bank, consider the best rates of interest to make your money grow.
All present and correct?
We can’t stress how important it is to be fastidious with the details of your existing bank when you give them to your new supplier. But don’t just take our word for it – here’s what Mark Broadman of the Payments Council has to say: “If the details you provide to your new bank do not match the details held by your old bank then you may be asked to contact your old bank to update the details they hold about you," he says. "Examples include if you have got married and not changed your maiden name to your married name or if you have moved house and not told your old bank your new address.”
Make a statement
Make sure you’ve got a statement and debit card to hand. “Customers can help prepare for their switch by being ready to give their new bank or building society an up-to-date bank statement that shows their current address,” says Broadman. “Customers should also have their existing debit card with them – this will help their switch commence successfully by enabling banks to run the security checks that they need to undertake to protect customers.”
Keep your records
Paperless bank statements are a boon, but bear in mind that you won’t have access to your old banking records once you switch to a new bank or building society. If you think you’ll need access to old statements you’ll need to get hard copies from your old bank before you switch.