‘People get divorced more often than they change bank’ is no longer true but I am sure many people (like me) have had the same bank account for 30+ years. There is a lot of inertia to overcome in moving and in a competitive market surely all their charges are much of a muchness? Calculator time and I was shocked!
Wandering round foreign lands with big wads of cash in your pocket is a bit like wearing a billboard that says mug me so what better than using your debit card to grab smaller amounts of cash every couple of days. If I take £100 in local beer tokens out of a bank ATM in 3 transactions my current bank charges are:
£2.99 load on the exchange rate
£6.00 cash withdrawal fees
A total of £8.99/£100 or 9% in charges ?!!? Nice work if you can get it and all the major banks are around this mark, so much for competition in banking. Cash makes the world go round so we will be taking out a fair bit which makes it worthwhile checking out alternatives.
Only 3 accounts offer free foreign cash withdrawals:
Metrobank – but you need to walk into a London branch so not the most convenient in you are in Brighton.
Santander Zero – open to existing customers only (after 3 months). A possibility but I have just opened a Santander eSaver account and 2.5 weeks later I am still waiting for the paperwork. I called to check and apparently it just takes this long? Not confidence inspiring, nor were some of the complaints I read about online (in my book you have to be pretty peeved to go to the bother of writing it all up although some had comedy value).
Norwich & Peterborough (nandp.co.uk) – You have to pay in £500/month and the account is fee free with Sentinel Gold card protection thrown in. I applied on a Saturday and the account was all set-up a few days later. Wow. I have also called them a couple of times and you actually get straight through to someone that sounds like they sit in a bank and not a battery farm cage. A complete pleasure to deal with. I wonder what they will be like when a llama eats my card?
Question – how can my bank still be losing billions each year when they charge this much? Answers on a postcard please.