Five questions on: Switching current accounts


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The Independent Online

It's too difficult to switch bank accounts. How can I find out which is the right current account for me?

This week a new comparison service from, backed by the Treasury, came on stream. It looks at your personal banking history to work out which account will save or make you the most money.

How do they get my personal history?

You have to upload statements and then the service examines your banking transactions over the past 12 months to come up with a personalised list of the best accounts available, taking into account the fees, charges, interest rates and reward schemes linked to each account.

What about security issues?

The comparison tool has been developed as part of the Government's "midata" initiative, which aims to give consumers greater control over the electronic information that companies hold on them. All your details are anonymous to protect them, and the service won't even know with which bank you have your existing current account.

Is the service available to any bank customers?

So far, only the big five banking groups and Nationwide have signed up, although negotiations continue with the smaller banks. It means you'll be able to use the service if you bank with Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, Ulster Bank, Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Nationwide, Santander, HSBC, First Direct, M&S Bank and Barclays.

What does it cost and what does the service oblige me to do?

It's backed by the Treasury and won't cost you a penny. Once you've uploaded your statements and got the results, you can click through and switch there and then, if you wish – or go away and think about it, or even stay with your existing bank if you want to. Just go online to to try it out.

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