Halifax to shake up Ultimate Reward account fees – are you a winner or loser?
Halifax is to change the fees it charges on its Ultimate Reward packaged bank account from November, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal. If you spend a lot on your debit card or have a high account balance you could pay less, but many who don't meet the criteria will pay more – we've full info and analysis.
Halifax's Ultimate Reward packaged bank account comes with a range of insurance which we calculate could be worth £400+/year in total – including worldwide family travel insurance (with winter sports) up to your 71st birthday, smartphone insurance and UK breakdown cover for the account holder or holders, plus home emergency cover.
While the account officially costs £17/month, at the moment you get a discount and are charged just £15/mth if you stay in credit, pay in at least £750 and pay out two direct debits each month.
However, customers have this week started receiving notifications that Halifax will be axing this £2/mth discount from November and instead replacing it with a new feature known as Reward Extras, which lets customers 'earn' £5/mth if they meet strict new criteria. This means that:
- If you meet the new criteria, the fee you pay for the account will effectively drop to £12/mth. To do this though you'll need to stay in credit and pay in at least £1,500/mth, plus either spend £500+/mth on your debit card or have a £5,000+ daily balance. If you pay the discounted rate now that'll mean a £36/yr saving.
- If you don't meet the new criteria, you'll have to pay the full £17/mth. For those paying the discounted rate now, this will mean a £24/yr price hike.
For full info on how this kind of bank account works plus our current top picks, see our Packaged Bank Accounts guide.
How the fee change will affect existing customers
Halifax says the new fees structure will apply to existing customers – those who opened their account on or before 14 August 2019 – from 1 November 2019. New customers who open an account on or after 15 August 2019 will see the changes take effect on 1 December 2019 instead.
There won't be any change to the insurance and cover provided by the account. Here's a full summary for the fee changes:
|From 1 Nov (1)|
|Cost with discount/reward||£15/mth||£12/mth|
|Criteria for discount/reward||
- Pay in at least £750/mth
- Stay in credit
- Pay out two direct debits
- Pay in at least £1,500/mth
- Stay in credit
- Spend £500+ on your debit card
How does Halifax Ultimate Reward compare to other accounts?
Currently the Halifax Ultimate Reward account is one of our packaged bank account best buys, though the rival Nationwide FlexPlus account offers the most comprehensive cover for a £13/mth fee. The best option for you is likely to depend on which of the benefits you're able to use – and if you won't use them all, always check if you could buy the insurance cheaper elsewhere.
Halifax Ultimate Reward will continue to provide decent cover, and if you meet the qualifying criteria these changes will mean the price will drop to £12/mth – slightly cheaper than Nationwide FlexPlus. Yet it's worth noting the criteria are quite demanding, as you'll need to spend £500+ on your debit card or keep £5,000+ in the account. Unless you'd do that anyway, the discount may not be worth it – you'd likely earn more by doing your spending on a cashback credit card or stashing your cash in a top savings account.
See our Top Packaged Bank Accounts guide for a full rundown of the pros and cons.
What does Halifax say?
Halifax says its Reward Extras offer will last until 31 October 2020 (or 30 November 2020 for customers who took out the account from 15 August 2019), and it'll let customers know what will happen after this closer to the time.
A Halifax spokesperson said: "In November 2019, we are launching our new Rewards Extra proposition which will give customers the opportunity to earn £5 a month for 12 months, in addition to the already extensive range of benefits available through the Ultimate Reward current account.
"This will replace the current £2 monthly discount on their account fee and we are writing to customers to let them know about the changes."