App-based banks top MSE’s customer service poll

Martin Lewis: ‘They leave the big banks looking like lumbering dinosaurs’

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

More than 5,000 current account holders responded to the online poll, with 94% of Monzo customers saying its service was ‘great’, compared to 89% for long-term champion First Direct.

In third place is Starling Bank, meaning app-based banks now take first and third spot – and none of the top three banks have branches.

Until last year, First Direct had won every banking service poll MSE had ever done – but it was pipped to the post by challenger bank Monzo in March 2019. First Direct temporarily managed to reclaim the top spot in August 2019, helped by the fact that Monzo didn't receive enough votes to be counted in the official rankings.

At the other end of the scale in our latest poll, RBS took the wooden spoon, with only 35% of its customers saying its service was ‘great’.


Martin Lewis, founder of, said: "This is the dawn of the age of app-based banking, with both Monzo and Starling appearing on the top service podium. They are leaving the old banks looking like lumbering dinosaurs. 

"Tech expectations, especially among younger customers, are sky-high. They don’t just want to see their balances, they want charming tools that help them interrogate their finances, aid budgeting, and even algorithms to help them save automatically. Some old banks are trying to introduce this, but they aren’t nimble enough.

"Yet while none of the winners have branches, we need to be careful not to draw the conclusion they’re not needed. The banking sector has to run a balance between tech-savvy new customers, and providing continuity of facilities to some in the older generation who can’t or won’t bank online.

"And while Monzo and Starling are top for service, they don’t come close to packing the perks of some of the older players, who have to buy in customers – RBS, NatWest and HSBC all currently pay new switchers £175. And filling the sweet spot between service and finance is First Direct, which is second for service and currently gives new switchers £100 for free, a £250 0% overdraft for some and a linked 2.75%-paying regular savings account."

MSE banking customer service poll February 2020

Rank + provider 'Great' 'OK' 'Poor' 
1. Monzo 94% 4% 2%
2. First Direct 89% 7% 4%
3. Starling 86% 5% 9%
4. Nationwide 74% 20% 6%
5. Co-Op Bank / Smile  68% 22% 10%
6. Santander 54% 37% 9%
7. Barclays  54% 30% 16%
8. Lloyds  51% 32% 17%
9. Halifax  47% 40% 13%
10. HSBC  45%  34% 21%
11. NatWest 41% 38% 21%
12. TSB 39% 39% 22%
13. RBS 35% 35% 30%

There were 5,224 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.