Making a Change - is your Current Account Working Hard Enough?

by : Andrew Regan

How you chose your current account is perhaps something hidden in the mists of time. You were probably still a teenager, perhaps a student, interested in the occasional free gift on offer or simply keen to walk into the nearest bank and start behaving like an adult rather than hiding your pocket money in a piggy bank. Conscientious youngsters, or those with active parents, may have put more thought into their choice and asked bank mangers all those prescient questions about overdrafts and interest rates. But this youthful maturity is probably the exception rather than the norm.

However, years later you may still be with the same bank, even if your current account is a little flashier than the one you were allowed at the age of sixteen. It is amazing how much you will put up with just because you have had a current account for years and feel a certain loyalty - or if not loyalty, then familiarity at least. But if you are not getting the best out of your account then inertia is not a recommended guiding principle.

If you have moved home and the only branch of your bank is now miles away and often very busy, is it still really the best option? Also, are the bank staff helpful? You might have set up a current account in your local small town where the staff had known you since you were a baby and always treated you to a smile, but in your new town are the staff still personable?

It perhaps seems disproportionate to emphasise the personal nature of banking, but current accounts are so important to the everyday running of your life that it is reassuring to know you have a friendly support mechanism there, should you need it. Increasingly, people manage their affairs online and only pop in to the bank if they need advice or have a more complex transaction. Then of course there are the 'hard core' questions you should be asking, about interest rates, overdraft facilities and bank charges. As a student, the extent of your interest-free overdraft was a priority, but years later this may not be such an issue and will probably no longer be a feature on offer.

Changing banks has never been easier. You can simply open a current account with the new bank of your choice and they will carry out most of the hard work, usually redirecting standing orders and direct debits, perhaps giving you a temporary overdraft buffer, even a 'reward' for changing.

In today's competitive financial market there is little excuse for sticking with a current account that is out-of-date or unsuitable, when so many other options are available. Swapping is also reassuringly easy - not much more difficult than changing your hairdresser.