Over one million RBS and NatWest customers with its fee-charging Black and Platinum package accounts, which come with added insurance cover, will have to pay more per month from early next year.
RBS and sister bank NatWest, which are both part of the RBS Group, are this week writing to customers to inform them of the changes. See our Bank Accounts with Benefits guide to compare which paid for account is best for you.
The move will see Black account customers pay £26/month from 17 January 2016 – a £2/month (£24/year) increase. While Platinum customers, who were only transferred to the account from their previous Gold account in the summer, will pay £16/month from 17 January 2016 – an increase of £1/month (£12/year).
The bank says nothing will change for both sets of customers, barring the level of breakdown cover Platinum customers get, which will expand from local to national. It explains this is why the fee is rising for Platinum customers, while it says the costs of running the package account is why Black account customers will also be hit with a price hike.
All other RBS and NatWest package account customers are unaffected by the move.
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I'm unhappy about the increase, what can I do?
RBS says customers can downgrade their accounts to the Platinum (if they have the Black account), the Silver, Reward or Select (no monthly fee) accounts, or they can close them all together. There's no penalty fee for doing either of these, and the monthly fee will be charged pro-rata depending on the day you close your account.
The Black and Platinum accounts are both aimed at customers with a £100,000 income, a NatWest or RBS mortgage of £300,000 or more, or for those who have £100,000 in savings and investments accounts with the banks.
Customers receive worldwide travel insurance, airport lounge access, mobile phone insurance, UK and European breakdown cover and more.
RBS says Black and Platinum customers can also opt to pay an additional £2/month to earn 3% cashback on selected household bills, which follows the bank launching its new cashback current in October.
Are package accounts worth it?
Currently, package accounts can cost up to £25, and if you're not using the benefits you're probably wasting your money.
If you're using the benefits of your package account, use the fee increase as an opportunity to check if you can get the cover cheaper elsewhere either with a different package account, or with a free bank account and standalone insurance. See our Best Bank Accounts guide and our Insurance guides for the best buys.
Remember, don't think about it as costing £15 a month, for example, always multiply the monthly cost by 12 to get the cost per year (£180 in this example), and compare insurance costs to see if you can get it cheaper elsewhere.
Also, if you were flogged a package account by a pushy sales agent or were told it was right for you but actually you don't qualify for the benefits, because you're over a certain age for example, you could be owed serious cash, as banks have been found to have systemically mis-sold them. See our Reclaim Package Accounts guide for help reclaiming.