This content originally appeared in the MSE weekly email on 16 September 2015.

Banks are one of the biggest causes of complaints, yet only 2% of accounts were switched last year, so our message is simple – if your bank's a b*****d, don't bitch, switch. And since 7-day switching launched two years ago, 82% who've tried tell us it was "easy and hassle free" – only 4% had issues.

Right now banks are so desperate for your business many will pay you free cash to switch, here's a summary. See our Best Bank Accounts guide for how this compares to other incentives.

  • New. First Direct free £150 + No.1 service + 0% overdraft + 6% regular saver. Switch to First Direct* via this link and you currently get £150 (was £100). It's won every cust service poll we've run, 92% rate it great, plus it has a £250 0% overdraft and linked 6% regular saver. You need to pay in £1,000/mth (as explained below) or there's a fee.
  • New. Nationwide free £100 + a year's 5% interest and 0% overdraft. Switch to Nationwide FlexDirect* via this promo link and get £100 plus its usual year's huge 5% AER variable on the first £2,500 in it, and a 0% overdraft (the amount you get's credit score-dependent). After the year there's 1% AER in-credit interest and 50p/day overdraft.

  • New. Halifax free £125 plus £5/mth. Until 18 October, switch to Halifax* and you get £125 (normally £100), plus it pays you a flat £5/mth every month you stay in credit – great if you keep little in there. Its overdraft's expensive though.
  • Do you earn enough to get 'em? Many banks set a 'min monthly deposit' to ensure your income is paid into them. For instance, First Direct's £1,000/mth is equivalent to a £13,200+ salary. There is a workaround, eg, if you've £750/mth coming in, withdraw £250 as cash or to an account with another bank, then pay it back in and BINGO...

TOP FREE-CASH BANK-SWITCHING BRIBES (ranked from lowest to highest pay-in) All these will credit-score you & may require you to set direct debits up in order to qualify too.

Account Intro offer and other benefits Min mthly pay-in 
(equiv yearly salary)
M&S Bank* Free £100 M&S gift card + £100 0% overdraft, 6% regular saver (1) NONE
New Halifax* Free £125 + pays £5 each month you're in credit £750 (£9,150)
Co-op Bank* Free £100 plus £25 to charity £800 (£9,850)
New First Direct* Free £150, no.1 cust service, £250 0% overdraft, 6% regular saver £1,000 (£13,200)
Clydesdale* (2) Free £150, 2% interest on up to £3,000, 9.9% EAR overdraft £1,000 (£13,200)
New Nationwide* Free £100, 5% interest on up to £2,500, 12mth 0% overdraft £1,000 (£13,200)
HSBC Advance Free £100 + £120 bonus on HSBC Loyalty ISA £1,750 (£26,400)
(1) You also get a £10 Dine in for Two voucher when you switch (2) Pick the Current Account Direct, also available from sister bank Yorkshire*.
PS. We've just heard Santander's increasing the monthly fee for its 123 bank account from £2 to £5 for both new and existing customers from January 2016. We'll bring you full analysis of whether to stick with it or not next week.