Around one million Royal Bank of Scotland customers have been told they will no longer be able to use the cashpoint machines of other financial institutions.
The changes at the bank – part-owned by the taxpayer – affect holders of its Basic Account, set up for those deemed unable to open a mainstream account, such as customers with no fixed address.
The watchdog Consumer Focus accused it of dealing a "kick in the teeth" to its "most vulnerable customers". Marie Burton of Consumer Focus said: "Short-sighted moves like this will only help to reverse the good work done [to help people access bank accounts]. People living in rural areas deserted by bank branch closures may not have the option of other ATMs nearby."
Like other banks, RBS is charged each time one of its customers uses a rival's ATM. An RBS spokesman said it remained "fully committed to offering a free basic account for people who may otherwise struggle to access banking services".
He insisted holders of a Basic Account would still be able to use "one of the largest cash machine networks in the country".
RBS believes the move "brings it into line" with other banks, citing Lloyds TSB, which took a similar decision, and HSBC, which began charging a fee for use of other ATMs.Reuse content