One hundred thousand Norwich & Peterborough customers whose current accounts will be closed on 31 August can earn up to £200 switching to a different bank, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal, after at least two banks agreed to offer a switching incentive lifeline.
The Norwich & Peterborough (N&P) brand, which is operated by Yorkshire Building Society (YBS), will cease to exist later this year. It was initially feared that customers wouldn't be able to access switching incentives available at other banks because N&P isn't a member of the Current Account Switch Service (CASS).
However HSBC and M&S Bank have now promised to waive the usual requirement that customers must be switching from a CASS member to benefit from their incentives. This means you'll be able to swap your soon-to-be defunct N&P current account for an account that offers up to £200 for new customers, plus other longer-term incentives.
Instead of switching online though, you'll need to do it by calling the bank you're switching to or filling in a paper form. For our pick of the UK's top current accounts and the bonuses they offer, see our Best Bank Accounts guide.
How to switch and make sure you get the bonus
Of the six banks we feature in the 'top accounts with switching bonuses' section of our Best Bank Accounts guide, two have agreed to provide switching incentives to N&P customers.
It's up to you to decide which is the best fit for you (and it's worth bearing in mind that different banks have slightly different qualifying criteria), but in a nutshell:
- HSBC – £150 plus £50 after a year. Open and switch to HSBC's Advance Account and you'll get £150. Plus if you stay for a year, you'll get a further £50 bonus, making this the best cash incentive on the market. However, the account has a high minimum monthly pay-in – £1,750 a month – so consider whether you'll be able to meet this before opting for it. You also need to switch two direct debits.
How to do it: To manually switch to HSBC, you'll need to call 08000 326 215. It should take around 12 working days. You can't get the bonus if you've had a current account with HSBC since 1 January 2015.
- M&S Bank – £50 M&S gift card. The M&S Bank current account is one of few to allow you to switch to it without requiring a minimum pay-in, though the rewards it gives for switching have recently been cut, and you need to switch two direct debits. It gives you a £50 M&S gift card for switching to it, plus reward points when you shop in M&S. You get a decent £100 0% overdraft, and a linked 5% regular saver.
How to do it: Either download a switching form and post it off to the bank or call 0800 756 7777 to start a switch from your N&P account. You must have not previously switched a current account to M&S to be eligible for the bonus.
We asked the other four banks in our 'top accounts with switching bonuses' section whether they would follow suit. Co-op Bank, First Direct, Halifax and TSB all told us N&P aren't eligible for switching incentives currently - though Co-op Bank and TSB said they were looking into the matter.
Once the relevant info has been received, the bank will get in touch with N&P to start the switching process – this will include the management of your regular payment details such as standing orders, direct debits and bill payments. A switch date will also be set so you know when everything's going to move across. Bear in mind you won't be covered by the CASS guarantee.
My current account is with N&P – what will happen?
The YBS says all N&P current accounts will be closed on 31 August 2017, and it will do the following:
- Write to customers to provide details of how they can switch or close their accounts, along with info specific to their personal circumstances.
- Direct customers to the Money Advice Service for impartial advice about current accounts.
- Once a customer has chosen a new current account provider they need to provide it with their N&P current account details (to initiate a manual switch).
- N&P will give the new provider details of any regular payments so these can be set up on the new account.
- Arrange to transfer any account balance to the new account, and then close the N&P account when the customer or new provider asks it to do so.
- For personal accounts, all benefits such as free card use abroad, Visa debit card and cheque payments, Sentinel Gold cover, overdraft and fee-free buffer will continue until the accounts are closed.
What does the YBS say?
Commenting on the end of the N&P brand, Mike Regnier, chief executive of YBS, says: "The Norwich & Peterborough brand has been part of Yorkshire Building Society since 2011, and inevitably, some of our colleagues and members will be disappointed by these proposals.
"The values of the N&P and Yorkshire brands are synonymous and we believe operating with Yorkshire Building Society as our sole high street brand would allow us to run the business more effectively and efficiently, enabling us to deliver better products and services for our members.
"These proposals would help us achieve that aim and further reinforce Yorkshire's position as one of the most trusted financial services providers in the UK."