Best current account providers revealed: No surprises as First Direct, Starling and Monzo trounce High Street banks in customer satisfaction survey
Online banks First Direct, Starling Bank and Monzo have topped a league table of the best current account providers as rated by customers.
The annual satisfaction survey from Which? quizzed more than 4,000 people and found that users ranked the three online or app-based banks highly for their customer service, application process, communication and transparency of charges.
Customers at these banks were also more likely to recommend it to a friend or family member. The study arrives at the end of a week that saw yet more technical problems annoy account holders at NatWest and RBS, and in which TSB announced a drastic branch closure programme.
While challenger brands sat at the top of the table, familiar High Street names such as HSBC, TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland languished further down the rankings.
Ulster Bank came last.
Internet and telephone bank First Direct frequently tops customer satisfaction surveys, while Starling Bank and Monzo are two of the more established mobile app-based account providers.
Andrew Hagger from Moneycomms said: ‘It’s no surprise to see First Direct joined by the newer challengers Starling Bank and Monzo as being highly rated by customers for service and communication.’
Which? bank satisfaction survey
1. First Direct, 84%
2. Starling Bank, 83%
3. Monzo Bank, 82%
4. Nationwide Building Society, 78%
5. M&S Bank, 76%
6. Metro Bank, 75%
7. The Co-operative Bank, 73%
=8. Barclays Bank, 70%
=8. Halifax, 70%
=8. Santander, 70%
=11. Lloyds Bank, 69%
=11. NatWest, 69%
=11. Yorkshire Bank, 69%
=14. Danske Bank, 66%
=14. HSBC, 66%
16. TSB, 65%
17. Bank of Scotland, 64%
18. Clydesdale Bank, 63%
19. Royal Bank of Scotland, 62%
20. Tesco Bank, 60%
21. Ulster Bank, 55%
‘All three are digital banks so they don’t have branch networks. Managing branches brings more challenges.
‘Starling and Monzo are both relatively new with smaller customer bases and will have the challenge of maintaining these high standards as they scale up.’
Hagger added: ‘These results are mirrored by success in the current account switching figures with Monzo winning a net 20,745 new accounts from rivals in the first half of 2019 and Starling Bank with a very credible 11,919 new switched customers in the same period – compare this with most big high street banks where many continue to see customers switch elsewhere.’
Banking and Investment Expert Charlie Barton from finder.com said:
‘First Direct has long been loved for its human touch and regularly tops customer rankings. The switching sweetener – offering £50 to join – has definitely helped the bank gain some traction, coupled with a heavy focus on customer service.
‘Digital banks burst onto the scene with cool features that suit modern life – things like instant spending notifications, freezing your card if it’s lost and spending insights.
‘Another big draw of Starling Bank and Monzo is the fee-free spending abroad. Big banks are certainly cottoning on, but there’s still a lot of catching up to do.’
Monzo, which was placed third, has not been formally endorsed by Which? with recommended provider status.
Which? said this is because Monzo has yet to sign up to an industry code on bank transfer fraud which offers greater protection when people are tricked into transferring money directly into a fraudster’s bank account.
Which? said it had been told by Monzo that it will be signed up to the code within the first three months of 2020.
Nationwide Building Society and M&S Bank also rated highly and are recommended by Which?.
Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: ‘It’s clear that consumers value great customer service and easily accessible banking – and that applies whether they prefer to bank with a mobile app or a bricks-and-mortar branch.
‘Traditional high street banks would do well to learn from their rivals challenging the status quo at the top of our survey.
‘It seems they need to up their game to ensure they’re giving customers what they want when it comes to customer service, communication and transparency.
‘Anyone unhappy with their bank should vote with their feet and switch to a new provider.’