Nationwide crumples under pressure, adds interest rates

Business banking news review: week ending 25 Oct 2012

The largest building society in the UK has finally folded under pressure, agreeing to add the current interest rate to its customers’ online banking pages.

No longer will Nationwide’s 10 million-plus savers be in the dark when it comes to the interest rates their saving accounts are earning. Now, the building society will showcase the rate of the return for all of its savers, regardless of whether they’re earning a paltry 0.1 per cent or as high as 2.75 per cent – Nationwide’s current top rate.

Before this, savers would only be able to see their rate whenever they received an electronic or paper statement, and with some accounts only sending out statements once a year, savers could end up losing out on an opportunity to switch to a better deal. With the lion’s share of high interest savings accounts carrying a weighty bonus rate that inevitably expires after a short period of time, it’s more important than ever to know exactly what you’re earning so you can jump ship when the going is good.

Online banking has grown to be an incredible phenomenon in the UK. In fact, more than 21 million Brits take care of their financial concerns onine, and some hardly ever visit their local branch any more. Banks have encouraged this by paring back the number of branches open in the UK and reserving the deals with the most lucrative rates of return for internet-only deals, yet it seems many can’t be bothered to provide all the information their customers need in a convenient way, such as showcasing your current interest rate – something that could be remedied extremely easily compared to other, more serious problems.

Of course, it can be argued that banks and building societies have been reticent to implement the changes because it’s in their best interest, as they’re spending less money on low-paying savings products that have had their bonus rates stripped from them, resulting in an interest rate that pays but a pittance. The excuse given for not implementing the changes have almost invariably been the expense financial service providers would incur, but with the fees almost every bank charges their customers for every little thing, this seems an absolutely unacceptable answer, doesn’t it?

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