More than half of all Norwich & Peterborough customers now have longer to close their current accounts, and four banks have confirmed that they will be able to earn up to £200 switching to them.
The Norwich & Peterborough (N&P) brand, which is operated by Yorkshire Building Society (YBS), will cease to exist later this year. It initially said that current accounts would have to be closed by 31 August 2017, but is now giving customers up to six months from receiving a letter about the closure.
Letters started to be sent to existing customers at the end of February, but of the 100,000 customers, N&P has yet to mail 50,000 people. Thirty-thousand have closed their accounts or switched away already, and there are a remaining 20,000 who have received a letter but not yet closed their accounts.
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How to switch and make sure you get the bonus
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, four of our best-buy accounts – First Direct, HSBC, M&S Bank and TSB – 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 a 'manual switch', which takes about 12 working days. You'll need to call the bank you're switching to, fill in a paper form or go to a branch, and give clear instructions for your N&P account to be closed as part of the switch.
It's up to you to decide which bank account is best for you (bearing in mind that different banks have slightly different qualifying criteria), but in a nutshell:
- HSBC – free £200 (£150 upfront, £50 in 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. But the account has a high minimum monthly pay-in – £1,750/month – so consider if you'll be able to meet this before opting for it.
How to do it: Ask in branch for a manual switch or call 08000 326 215. You also need to switch two direct debits/standing orders, and register for online or mobile banking. You can't get the bonus if you've had a current account with HSBC since 1 January 2015.
- TSB – free £130 + free £10/mth and 3% interest. New TSB Classic Plus customers applying via our link get £130 (nothing if you go direct) for switching, plus until June 2018 it pays £5/mth cashback as long as you've at least two monthly direct debits paying out, and a further £5/mth when you make 20 debit card payments per calendar month. You also get 3% AER variable interest on up to £1,500. You must allow cookies in your browser otherwise the switching offer might not track.
How to do it: Open the account via our link then do a manual switch in branch (TSB recommends booking an appointment in advance). To get all the perks, you need to fully switch including at least two active direct debits, pay in £500 within 28 days of switching, then £500/mth (which you can withdraw again if you want), go paperless and register for internet banking. You can't get the switching bonus if you've ever received one from TSB.
- First Direct – free £125, £250 0% overdraft & no.1 for service. Apply via our First Direct link and newbies get £125 (£100 if you apply direct). It's won every customer service poll we've done, with 90% rating it 'great'. Plus you get a £250 0% overdraft, and access to a 5% linked regular savings account.
How to do it: Open the account via our link then call First Direct on 0345 6100 100 to ask to do a manual switch. You need to pay in £1,000 within three months of account opening to get the bonus, then pay in £1,000/mth or meet other selected criteria, or there's a £10/mth fee, which isn't worth paying. You can't get the bonus if you've ever had a First Direct account.
- M&S Bank – free £125 M&S gift card + £5/mth for a year. M&S Bank gives new switchers a £125 M&S gift card, access to its 5% fixed regular savings account and a £100 0% overdraft. Also, for the first year, it'll add £5/mth to the gift card if you pay in at least £1,000/mth. You need to switch at least two active direct debits within three months of account opening and keep them active for the £5/mth.
How to do it: Download a switching form and post it to the bank or call 0800 756 7777. You must have not previously switched a current account to M&S to be eligible for the bonus.
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 closure of your account, and 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.
What does YBS say?
Yorkshire Building Society told MoneySavingExpert.com: "If a customer has not taken steps to close or switch their account within six months of receiving their letter, we will work closely with the customer on a case-by-case basis to facilitate a switch or closure.
"Current account customers who would like to discuss closing or switching their account can call our contact centre on 0345 300 2511 or pop into any branch. Customers who are registered for internet banking can also get in touch via our secure email messaging service."