Nationwide will become the latest current account provider to axe a key switching incentive, can reveal.

The UK's largest building society is to stop offering its long-standing free annual European travel insurance to new customers on its FlexAccount*. If you want to grab it you only have until Wednesday next week.

Numerous banks have removed or cut benefits such as interest, rewards or cash bribes since the Bank of England reduced the benchmark base rate from 0.5% to 0.25% in August. Santander drew most attention after it slashed the interest on its 123 current account from up to 3% to 1.5% on a maximum £20,000.

How do I get the free annual European travel insurance? 

To get the perk you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be a FlexAccount* customer or have started the application for an account by 11.59pm on Wednesday 14 December. 
  • Activate the insurance by sending back a form declaring any medical conditions – even if you don't have any. Nationwide will soon introduce a cut-off date to send it back, likely to be around late spring 2017.
  • If you use the official current account switching service, you can send the form back immediately. If you don't, you can only activate the insurance by sending the form back after you have paid in at least £750/month into the account for three months.
  • To keep the insurance going after activation you must pay in at least £750/month and tell Nationwide if anything changes with your medical situation.

Is the account worth getting?

Helen Saxon, chief product analyst, says: "The Nationwide free travel insurance offer has been around as long as I can remember. But from next week it'll be added to the long casualty list of bank perks cut or canned in 2016.

"Completely free travel insurance is a rare perk, and it's an especially good deal for older account holders between 65 and 75, when travel insurance starts to get expensive.

"But, if you're paying Nationwide to upgrade the insurance to family or worldwide insurance or you're paying the 75-and-over premium, it's always best to compare if you could get separate travel insurance more cheaply.

"It's also a good idea to look at other bank account perks that give you £100 to switch to them, and ongoing rewards – that could pay for several years' travel insurance. Decide what's most important to you."

See our Best Bank Account and Cheap Travel Insurance guides for more options.

I get free annual European travel insurance on Nationwide's FlexAccount. Will I still keep it? 

Yes, as long as you keep meeting the eligibility criteria of depositing at least £750 a month and you tell Nationwide if anything changes with your medical situation – if you fail to do so, it stops.

When you hit 75 you can still have the insurance but must pay an additional £50. If you drop off the insurance, you will NOT be eligible to reactivate it. 

I have a Nationwide FlexAccount already. Does that mean I'm automatically covered by the travel insurance?

Not necessarily. As above, you must meet its eligibility criteria of depositing at least £750/month. You must also have sent back a signed declaration form declaring whether or not you have any medical conditions. If not, you are NOT covered. You may have to pay more if you have a condition, and if you want family or worldwide cover.

Existing customers who had assumed they are covered but had not sent the form back will be reminded early next year that they will only have a few months to activate the insurance, with a deadline likely to be in late spring.

If I get covered by the insurance, how long will the cover last for?

Nationwide says it has no plans to stop covering customers who meet the eligibility criteria. So as long as it doesn't change its mind you are covered indefinitely. 

Will Nationwide cut any other current account perks?

It says it's decided to keep paying 5% fixed interest for a year paid on its different FlexDirect account, despite the low interest rate environment. It also says it has no plans to axe the £600 worth of insurance (travel, breakdown and mobile) for £120/year on its FlexPlus account.

Nationwide says the axing of free travel insurance for new customers was planned before August's base rate reduction and is because fewer than 10% of its FlexAccount customers actually activate the free insurance. It says it is nothing to do with that base rate cut.