Monzo tops MSE banking customer service poll

First Direct knocked from top spot for first time since poll began

Monzo has taken the crown in the latest banking customer service poll by the UK’s biggest consumer website, MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE), pushing First Direct off its perch at the top of the table for the first time ever.

More than 5,000 current account customers responded to the survey, with 93% of those who graded Monzo saying its service was ‘great’. The app-only bank received too few votes to rank in MSE’s previous August poll.

Monzo's victory means it's the first time First Direct has missed out on the top spot since the bi-annual poll started in 2010. Yet, despite taking the runners-up spot, First Direct actually improved its scoring in the last six months, with 90% rating it 'great', compared to 89% in August.

In other positions, Monzo's digital rival Starling took third place, followed by Nationwide in fourth. Meanwhile, following a raft of IT blunders during 2018, TSB has taken the wooden spoon for the second successive poll.

Interestingly, Metro Bank, which topped the Competition and Markets Authority's bank service league table last month, didn't get enough votes to be ranked, though a decent 75% of its customers rated it 'great.'

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said: "First Direct has had the crown for too long, not because we want to see it get worse, but we want to see others get better. Finally that's happened, with two app-only banks providing a real challenge to First Direct's customer service.

"Having said that, when you compare the overall picture, those two app-only banks’ primary perk is the fact that they give you very cheap spending abroad – whereas switching to First Direct gives you £100 of free cash, a 0% overdraft of up to £250 and a linked 5% regular savings account.

"Overall these perks, for the vast majority of people, will be far more valuable, so First Direct probably still has the complete package. But if getting the absolute best service is all you care about, maybe you should consider going app-only."

Results in full

MSE banking customer service poll March 2019

Rank + provider Key perks on main account (i) 'Great' 'Poor'
1. Monzo Fee-free overseas spending & withdrawals (free withdrawals capped at £200/mth). Warning: You can only pay cash in via PayPoint (£1 fee per deposit). 93% 5%
2. First Direct* £100 to switch if you pay in £1k in 3mths + 0% overdraft + 5% regular saver. (Pay in £1k/mth to avoid £10/mth fee.) 90% 4%
3. Starling* Fee-free overseas spending & withdrawals. 87% 6%
4. Nationwide* 5% interest on up to £2.5k for 1yr if you pay in £1k/mth + 5% reg saver + £100 to switch if referred by a friend. 80% 4%
5. Co-op & Smile - 71% 9%
6. Santander* 1-3% cashback on bills paid by direct debit (£1/mth fee) if you pay in £500+/mth & log in every 3mths. 64% 8%
7. Halifax £50 + £85 after 6mths for switching + £2/mth every month you pay in £750+, stay in credit & pay out 2+ direct debits. 52% 12%
8. Yorkshire & Clydesdale - 55% 17%
9. Lloyds - 52% 14%
10. Barclays - 51% 16%
11. HSBC* £175 (using our link) for switching + access to 5% reg saver. 49% 20%
12. NatWest* 2% cashback on bills paid by direct debit (£2/mth fee) if you pay in £1.5k/mth & register for online banking. 43% 22%
13. TSB* 5% interest on up to £1.5k if you pay in £500/mth. 35% 33%

(i) For any of these switching bonuses you must use the bank's official switch service and usually shift at least two direct debits. For ongoing perks, you'll usually need to have at least two direct debits active. When opening an account, you'll face a not-too-harsh credit check.

Note: There were 5,229 votes. Rankings based on two points for each 'great' %, one for each 'OK' % and zero for 'poor'. When scores are tied, the bank with the better 'great' rating goes ahead. We've excluded banks with fewer than 100 votes.

See MSE’s Best Bank Accounts guide for full information.