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Santander to slash opening hours at hundreds of branches - here's what you need to know

Santander is to shorten its opening hours on both weekdays and weekends at hundreds of branches across the UK for those who walk-in without a pre-booked appointment. 

The changes will likely impact small business owners in particular who cash in takings at bank branches at the end of each working day, or people who work full-time during the week and who visit on Saturdays. Santander said that business customers will have the option to use external ATMs to deposit and withdraw cash which are open 24/7.

Santander said it has made the decision due to low customer use and added that it would increase capacity for telephone banking.  

The move comes as banking groups across the country have axed branches, with HSBC announcing it will close 69 branches across the UK between July and October this year, while NatWest Group said it will shut 32 of its NatWest and RBS branches between May and July this year. Santander last shut branches in August, when 111 branches were closed.

If you're unhappy about the changes to opening hours and are thinking of switching to a different bank, see our  Best Bank Accounts guide for the top alternatives - though bear in mind other banks may too cut opening hours. 

How Santander branch opening times will change from 18 July

From 18 July 2022: 

On weekdays:

  • The majority (446) of Santander's 450 UK branches will only open for walk-ins from 9:30am - 3pm, down from 9:30am - 4:30pm at present. You'll need to have a pre-booked appointment if you need to visit one of these branches between 3pm and 5pm during the week.

  • Only four branches will keep their current weekday opening hours:
    - Basingstoke will remain open 9:30am - 7pm.
    - Gateshead Metro will remain open from 10am - 6pm.
    - Sheffield Meadowhall will remain open from 10:30am - 7:30pm. 
    - Work Café in Leeds will remain open from 9am - 4pm.
On weekends:
  • 316 UK branches will only open for walk-ins from 9:30am - 12:30pm, down from 9:30am - 4pm now. Again, you'll need a pre-booked appointment if you need to visit the branch between the hours of 12pm and 4pm.
  • 76 branches will keep their current Saturday opening hours of 9:30am - 12:30pm.
  • 58 branches will remain closed on Saturdays.

You can still bank online with Santander or use Post Office services

If you want to switch to banking online or on the app, Santander has a step-by-step guide on how to get started and how to use your online banking service.

If you can't get to a Santander branch within its new time frames, you can deposit and withdraw money from any of the Post Office's 11,500 branches.

The Post Office also enables customers to check their balance and pay in cheques. Use the  Post Office's branch finder tool to locate your nearest. Many Post Office branches open past 5pm,  but make sure you double check the opening hours of your local branch before heading out.

If branch access later in the day is important, try switching to an alternative bank but remember to check opening hours 

If your bank having branches that stay open for longer is important, then try switching to an alternative bank, but make sure you check the opening hours of the branch closest to you before you do. Also keep in mind this doesn't mean whichever bank you switch to won't close or cut the opening hours of its branches in the future.

Banks with branches that currently have switching incentives include the following: 

  • Halifax is offering new customers who switch to the Halifax Reward £125, plus monthly rewards. You can choose between £5 cash, a Vue cinema ticket, two RakutenTV movie rentals, or three digital magazines (such as CosmopolitanMen's Health). To get it all, and keep the account free, you must pay in £1,500+/month, and either spend £500+/month or keep £5,000+ in the account – you must choose which of these you'll do in advance and your choice is fixed for a year.
  • HSBC is currently offering newbies who switch to the HSBC Advance* via this specific link get £175 free cash. Plus you get access to a linked 1% regular saver where you can save up to £250/month. There's no minimum monthly pay-in to keep the account, though you will need to deposit £1,500+ once to get the bonus.
  • Nationwide is offering existing customers who switch to the Nationwide FlexDirect get £125, newbies get £100 (though we've an easy trick for all to get the boosted £125 – the link has full details). In addition to the free cash, you get 2% fixed interest on up to £1,500 and many get a 0% overdraft – both last for the first 12 months, unless you've had this account before, in which case you'll get just 0.25% in-credit interest and no 0% overdraft.

What does Santander say?

Richard Owen, head of branches at Santander said: "These changes will enable us to maintain our existing branch network while providing significant additional capacity to help customers who want to talk to us by phone.  We have seen a continuing reduction in branch usage over several years, both before and since the peak of the pandemic, with many customers preferring to transact digitally or contact us by phone."

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