Nationwide is overhauling its FlexPlus account, increasing the £10/month fee to £13/month and improving the insurance it offers but scrapping some perks, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal.
The changes to the account – a long-term top pick in our Packaged Bank Accounts guide because of the £600's worth of insurance it offers – will be brought in on 21 September 2017 for new and existing customers. Those already with the building society will be sent letters next month.
Nationwide is the latest provider to tweak its current account perks since the Bank of England cut the base rate last August. Santander 123 slashed its interest rate to 1.5%, Halifax, Lloyds and TSB then cut rewards and interest, and this week NatWest and RBS dropped the cashback paid on the Reward account.
MoneySavingExpert received a tip-off regarding Nationwide's changes from an insider at the building society – and it has since confirmed the details. Here's a rundown of what's changing with FlexPlus, and if it'll still be worth it after the overhaul.
How is FlexPlus changing?
The packaged bank account's fee is increasing from £10/mth to £13/mth – it'll cost an extra £36 over a year – and the account's perks are being overhauled.
Travel insurance included with the account will be extended: from 21 September 2017, family members who are under 19 – or under 22 if in full-time education – will be covered to travel independently. Before this change they would only be covered if travelling with you, your partner, a school or other similar organisation.
However, other incentives are being scrapped:
How Nationwide FlexPlus perks will change
|Incentive||What's the cover now?||How will it change?|
|Worldwide cover for you and family living at your address (incl golf, business & winter sports) – up to 75th birthday (i)||Improved: Will also cover u19s (u22s if in full-time education) travelling independently (ii)|
|Covers loss, theft, damage & breakdown for all phones owned by family members living at your address (max value £1,000). Max 2 claims/yr.||Improved: Max no of claims increased to 4/yr|
|Covers the account holder(s) driving any private car across the UK and Europe. Incl home start & onward travel.||No change|
|Cover for an extra 12mths on all new household electrical items costing between £50 & £2,000||Scrapped|
|Pays 3% AER in-credit interest on balances up to £2,500, so max interest of £74/yr||No change|
Commission-free withdrawals abroad
|No fee or load for cash withdrawals abroad, but 2% charge for overseas purchases||No change|
ID fraud & card assistance
|Support service for you & your family, incl dedicated helpline & worldwide emergency card assistance||Scrapped|
|3mths' fee-free, £100 fee-free buffer after, 50p/day fee above that||Improved: Fee-free buffer will increase to £250|
|(i) This will include cover for you or your partner travelling independently, and your children if they travel with you, your partner, a school or similar organisation. Those aged 75+ can pay a £50/yr premium for cover. (ii) Ie, not travelling with you, your partner, a school or other similar organisation.|
Is FlexPlus still worth it?
After the overhaul it's worth redoing the sums to check if the account's worth it. Work out the rough value of the account's insurance perk which you'll use, then see if that's worth more than the increased £156/year fee.
MSE's chief product analyst Helen Saxon said: "Even after the changes, this will still be a decent packaged account. But whereas before it was the runaway winner, it will now be much more nuanced as to whether this account will win for you, or whether you'd be better going for a competitor – Halifax, Co-op and NatWest all have strong packaged account offerings.
"The general packaged account rules still stand though. Before choosing any account, ensure you'll use enough of the insurance to make it worthwhile, and that you can't get cover cheaper by buying it separately."
See our Top Packaged Bank Accounts guide for our top picks – and for the cheapest cover, see our Breakdown, Mobile and Travel Insurance guides. Here's a summary of the three other top packaged accounts:
- Halifax Ultimate Reward. Costs £15/mth (if you jump through hoops you can cut this to £12/mth). Offers worldwide family travel insurance up to age 70 (can't be extended), plus smartphone insurance for the account holder(s), UK breakdown cover and home emergency cover. Comes with a £125 switching incentive. Full details.
- Co-op Everyday Extra. Costs £15/mth. Offers worldwide family travel insurance up to your 80th birthday (can't be extended), plus smartphone insurance for the account holder(s) and UK and European breakdown cover. Its Everyday Rewards scheme also offers up to £5.50/mth which can help offset the fee. Full details.
- NatWest Reward Platinum. Costs £19/mth. Offers worldwide family travel insurance up to your 70th birthday (you can pay £75/yr per person to extend it), smartphone insurance for the account holder(s) and UK breakdown cover. Also pays 2% cashback on any seven household bills you pay by direct debit. Full details.
Nationwide also recently extended its referral scheme meaning those with a Nationwide mortgage or savings account as well as those with a current account can earn a £100 bonus if they recommend a friend for a Nationwide current account – the friend will also get a £100 bonus.
If you close your account and have received a 'recommend a friend' £100 bonus in the three months beforehand, Nationwide can claim it back if it thinks you've left without "good reason". However, you could argue that a change to the fee and perks is a good reason.
What does Nationwide say?
A Nationwide spokesperson told MoneySavingExpert.com: "At £10 per month the account was making a loss as the cost of insurance has gone up. There were a significant number of claims in Europe where we were having to pay in the local currency, and the cost of paying in euros is more expensive, and the cost of mobile phones has also increased.
"This is our way of future-proofing the product. Even without the changes we would have had to make the fee increase, but we took the opportunity to improve the parts people really benefit from, while the ones we have removed were not really being used."