Be thankful you even have a current account to switch

Business banking news review: week ending 17 April 2014

So it’s been some six months since the new current account switching rules have gone into practice, and they’ve yielded decidedly¬†mediocre results.

On the one hand, reports have been published finally that have revealed some 609,000 people have switched accounts now that the Payments Council has made it compulsory for banks to guarantee a hassle-free switch in 7 days or less. Cor blimey that sounds like shedloads of people doesn’t it? Over half a million! Well hold on to your knickers – that’s really not that much at all in the grand scheme of things, especially considering how there’s around 46 million Brits that hold active current accounts down at their local High Street branch.

Of course these 609,000 switches that occurred over the last six months is an increase from the six months preceding it. Switching figures went up by around 14 per cent after cutting back the previous 30 day limit to just 7 days, but it’s not really anything to get all excited about. In fact, there’s new research revealing that the number of current account switchers is actually less than the number of people in the UK that don’t have any sort of bank account at all!

So how many is it, according to new estimates? Well it’s easily four times what the figure was prior to the credit crunch back in 2008. To be more precise, the total figure is most likely just a bit over 3 million. In other words, something like 5 times the number of individuals that switched current accounts over the last six months to March.

Most of the people who have fled banks are understood to be middle to lower income earners, which makes sense considering how most High Street banks have a reputation, unearned or not, for being right bastards when it comes to providing financial services for anyone without shedloads of cash to start with. Whether these bankless Brits are stuffing their mattresses at home is anyone’s guess, but I will say this: it’s not like they’re missing out on any attractive interest rates. Have you seen the rates of return on these bank accounts lately? They’re abysmal and quite honestly insulting. If I was more paranoid than I already am I’d be stuffing my own mattress as well.

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