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Account-switching apathy costs Britons £2.2bn

Apathetic Britons could lose out on a staggering £2.2bn in interest on money held in their current accounts in the next 12 months by not switching accounts to get a higher interest rate.

Santander calculates that the average current-account holder has a balance of £1,700 left at the end of each month, but the average interest-paying current account pays just 0.57 per cent gross on in-credit balances of £1,000. That means we get, on average, just £9.69 interest each year, but switching to a high-paying account could yield £85.

The problem, according to Santander's research, is apathy; just one in 25 people switched accounts in the past 12 months. Twenty seven per cent think it's not financially worth switching, while 23 per cent say it is too much hassle to change direct debits and standing orders. Seven per cent believe, wrongly, that their overdraft cannot be moved.

In fact switching accounts is easy these days, with banks and building societies forced to follow strict guidelines. Your old bank must pass on information about your account, direct debits and standing orders to your new bank within three working days. Your new bank has just 10 working days to open an account for you once your application is approved.