Increasing numbers of current-account holders are switching banks, with almost one million switches taking place in the last 12 months according to the latest figures - here's how your bank fared and how to bag up to £185 in vouchers for switching.

Over the last 12 months, 965,317 bank switches were completed using the official seven-day switching service - which closes your old account and moves payments across for you when you switch - a 6% increase on the previous 12 months. The Current Account Switch Service's (CASS's) figures also show 499,801 switches were completed in the first half of 2018 alone - a 7% increase on the same period in 2017.

Yet these growing numbers still represent a tiny fraction of UK current account customers, leaving many who could still gain by switching bank account. See below for how it works and the rewards available - and see which banks were the winners and losers of the switching war in the first quarter of 2018.

For full info and the best current account deals - including how to bag £185 in vouchers if you switch and stay - see our Best Bank Accounts guide.

How does bank switching work?

CASS was launched in 2013 to simplify the process of switching between banks.

It's completely free – you simply contact the new bank or building society you want to switch to and ask it to move your old account using the CASS (often this is part of the application process).

You can choose a switch date to suit you as long as you allow at least seven working days.

All payments going in and out, except for recurring payments set up with a debit card such as a gym membership, will be moved to your new account. Any wrongly applied charges, eg, for a missed direct debit, will also be refunded.

What rewards can I get for switching?

There are currently four banks offering cash, vouchers or rewards to switch (though one needs you to be referred by a friend):

  • First Direct - offers a choice of a £150 Expedia voucher or a gadget such as £170 Bose headphones or a £125 Fitbit, plus a linked 5% regular saver and top customer service.
  • M&S Bank - £125 M&S gift card, which can be boosted by £5/month for a year, and a linked 5% saver.
  • Halifax - £75 cash plus an ongoing £3/month reward.
  • Nationwide - £100 to switch if you're referred by a friend who's a Nationwide customer (or if you refer a friend and they switch), and a linked 5% regular saver.

  • Which banks were the most popular to switch to?

    For the first quarter of 2018 (from 1 January to 31 March), Halifax was the overall winner with a net gain of 33,942 , followed by Nationwide with 28,763 - showing that customers are taking advantage of the cash switching bonuses on offer. The figures also show the increasing popularity of new challenger banks, with app-based Starling Bank gaining 1,153 new customers.

    Barclays took the wooden spoon with a net loss of 17,628, while Co-Op Bank also saw heavy net losses of 14,108. TSB had a net loss of 5,126 - but as these numbers were from just before its IT meltdown, we expect to see far more dramatic losses in next quarter's figures, with customers switching away as a result of the ongoing issues.

    The full breakdown was:

    Switching figures 1 Jan 2018 - 31 March 2018

    Brand Gains Losses Net gains/losses
    AIB Group UK (plc) (1) 47 1,080 -1,033
    Bank of Ireland (2) 119 919 -800
    Bank of Scotland 4,378 4,354 24
    Barclays 8,169 25,797 -17,268
    Clydesdale Bank (3) 2,030 13,861 -11,831
    Co-Op Bank 612 14,720 -14,108
    Danske Bank 479 773 -294
    Halifax 62,700 28,758 33,942
    HSBC (4) 56,159 35,274 20,885
    Lloyds Bank 13,701 27,815 -14,114
    Nationwide 45,440 16,677 28,763
    NatWest 32,834 32,200 634
    RBS 1,487 12,509 -11,022
    Santander 18,177 28,713 -10,536
    Starling Bank 1,376 223 1,153
    Tesco Bank 1,592 1,392 200
    TSB 11,309 16,435 -5,126
    Ulster Bank 282 1,368 -1,086
    Low volume participants 1,680 773 907
    Data from the Current Account Switch Service. (1) Includes First Trust Bank and Allied Irish Bank. (2) Includes Post Office. (3) Includes Yorkshire Bank. (4) Includes First Direct and M&S Bank.