More than a million current accounts were switched to a new bank in 2015, according to new figures published today. But with total switches down 11% compared with 2014, the message is: if you're not gaining from your bank account, switch now.
Data released by payment services company Bacs shows there were 1.03 million current accounts switched last year, compared with 1.15 million in 2014.
Meanwhile separate stats published today by providers show in the most recent period for which figures are available, April to June 2015, Santander was the most switched-to bank. Halifax, Nationwide and Tesco Bank also made net gains, while Barclays, NatWest, RBS and Lloyds Bank lost customers overall.
Right now there's a fierce bank-switching war and you can earn up to £220 switching – it takes just seven days and 82% of people say it's easy and hassle-free. See full info and options in our Best Bank Accounts guide.
'A disappointing decrease'
Helen Saxon, chief product analyst at MoneySavingExpert, says: “It’s disappointing to see a decrease in the number of people switching in the last 12 months – these figures show just how much more needs to be done to encourage people to switch. Currently, less than 2% of us switch bank account each year.
"Santander and Halifax are the big winners and it's no coincidence. They offer current accounts which reward customers every month for staying – though it will be interesting to see what impact Santander’s raising of its 123 account fee has on the next figures. This and Halifax's Reward account also take two of the top five spots in our bi-annual banking service poll, showing customer service is an important consideration.
"Switching is no longer the chore it used to be – all your direct debits and standing orders can be moved within seven working days, and any payments made in error to your old account will be auto-forwarded. So the message is if you're not gaining anything from your bank account, switch now."
Switching awareness drive
A new multimillion-pound awareness drive was launched in September last year to promote the benefits of current account switching, after which Bacs says the number of switches picked up.
There were 257,638 accounts switched between October and December 2015 – an 11% jump compared with the third quarter of 2015.
Since the launch of seven-day switching in September 2013 there have now been more than 2.5 million switches in total.
What does Bacs say?
A spokesperson for Bacs said the fall in switches last year could be a reflection of banks doing more to encourage customers to stick with them.
"The number of switches we see is largely influenced by the activity of individual banks and building societies – and that includes not just incentives to switch but also incentives to remain with the existing banking provider, as they work to retain their customers in an increasingly competitive marketplace," he said.
Additional reporting by the Press Association.