Five questions on: Packaged current accounts

 

These are bank accounts that give you lots of groovy extras for just a few quid, aren't they?

Have you been swallowing the banks' hype? Packaged current accounts have emerged as the latest potential mis-selling scandal.

Ah. Does that mean they are rip-off accounts that charge you the earth for lots of useless extras?

It doesn't have to be one thing or the other. Packaged accounts do charge customers and in return include such extras as travel insurance, breakdown cover, discount vouchers and mobile phone insurance – which may not all be useless.

Make your mind up! Are these accounts rubbish or not?

It depends on whether you find the extras useful or not or, indeed whether you can actually use them. However, around one in five adults now has a packaged account. In fact there are 58 such accounts available, charging between £6 and £25 a month, with the average fee at £14 a month.

So why are they in the news this week?

Because the number of complaints about them is rocketing. The Financial Ombudsman Service reported that complaints about the accounts have more than doubled over the last year. However that's still a relative trickle with some 3,107 new complaints made in the first three quarters of this financial year, compared with 1,629 cases in the 2012-13 year.

Are the cases being upheld?

Around four-fifths of them are being upheld. The ombudsman said the majority of complaints are about the sale of the accounts. In some cases, people did not even realise they had been sold a packaged account and charges for it were unclear on their statement. Some claimed their account had been "upgraded" without their knowledge. If you think you've been mis-sold one, you can find advice on how to complain at www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints.htm

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