Banking giants brought down to size as challengers dominate Which? survey

Challenger banks have cemented their place at the top of the rankings in Which?’s annual current account survey, with Starling Bank coming ahead of the pack.

The consumer champion surveyed more than 4,500 members of the public on their opinions of their current account providers, and found a trio of challenger banks were the most highly rated by customers.

Starling Bank, Monzo and First Direct topped Which?’s customer score table, with users ranking the brands highly for their customer service, application process, communication and transparency of charges. Starling Bank and First Direct were also named Which? Recommended Providers.

Starling Bank finished top of the 24 brands ranked in the survey, achieving a customer score of 88 per cent. Customers praised its “clear and honest communications”, the ease of opening an account and using the app, as well as speedy responses from its “excellent” customer service team.

Monzo received the second highest customer score of 82 per cent. However, Which? has not formally endorsed the bank with its Which? Recommended Provider status as it has not met key criteria by signing up to the Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) voluntary code, where banks refund blameless victims of authorised push payment (APP) fraud.

First Direct slipped from first to third place this year but achieved a score of 79 per cent, earning five stars for customer service, complaints handling, online service and its mobile banking app.

Another bank that received Which? Recommended Provider status was M&S Bank, with a customer score of 77 per cent. It also earned five stars for online service.

All of the biggest banks finished outside the survey’s top six, with RBS (61%), TSB and Santander (both 63%) languishing in the bottom third of the table.

Tesco Bank and Citibank received the joint lowest customer score of 60 per cent, with both earning just two stars for complaints handling, and Citibank also scored only two stars for customer service.

Tesco Bank is no longer accepting new current account applications.

RBS holds this year’s unwanted record for the most two-star ratings in the survey with customers criticising its telephone service, account benefits, complaints handling, branch service and overall customer service.

Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor, said:

“The leading challenger banks have cemented their position ahead of many of the UK’s biggest banking brands in terms of customer satisfaction, showing that innovation and modern ideas are shaking up the market. However, it’s still good service that is truly valued by customers.

“Our research shows a clear gap between the best and worst providers and should encourage customers unhappy with their service to switch banks, as it’s never been easier.

“It’s vital that banks sign up to the industry code to reimburse blameless victims of authorised push payment (APP) fraud. Current account providers that haven’t will not be named Which? Recommended Providers.”

Notes to editors:

  • Which? surveyed 4,501 members of the public in the UK who told us about 5,646 experiences with bank accounts. Fieldwork was carried out online by Dynata between 20 August and 15 September 2020.
  • Customer score is based on satisfaction with the brand and likelihood to recommend the provider.
    Which?’s step by step guide to how to switch bank accounts can be found here:
  • Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
  • The information in this press release is for editorial use by journalists and media outlets only. Any business seeking to reproduce information in this release should contact the Which? Endorsement Scheme team at

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