Called to account

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The Independent Online
NATIONWIDE Building Society is making it harder for new customers to open current accounts. In future a customer will have to agree to keep a minimum balance of pounds 500 in the account or have at least pounds 500 credited to it each month.

Nationwide launched its current account, FlexAccount, in May 1987. It now has 1.3 million customers, but the society has been plagued by bad debts on the account and has been losing money on it.

A spokesman said it wanted customers to pay their salaries into their FlexAccounts and make them their main bank accounts.

Those customers who allow their balances to fall below pounds 500 will be sent letters reminding them of the conditions of the account. A spokesman said if the account was not plumped up, action could be taken, such as withdrawing loans at preferential rates.

Old customers, who will not be subject to the new restrictions, and new customers will get the same rates. The account has tiered interest rates, with 1.88 per cent net paid on balances up to pounds 500, 2.25 per cent between pounds 500 and pounds 2,000, and a top rate of 6.9 per cent on sums above pounds 25,000.

Those who agree to keep a minimum of pounds 500 in their accounts may still be allowed to dip below this and arrange overdrafts.

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