Smaller challenger providers have seen off competition from larger banks in a new survey from Which? revealing the best and worst brands for savers.
The consumer champion asked 4,178 savers and 4,550 current account holders about their banking experiences to find its latest Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs). Each provider was also given a product score, based on analysis of several elements, including fees and charges and how customers can operate the account.
At a time when high-street banks are under pressure to improve savings rates after failing to pass on base rate increases, Which? has identified banks which have strong customer scores and good quality products that offer competitive rates.
In the comparison of savings providers, Marcus by Goldman Sachs scored highly. Marcus was awarded a WRP endorsement for the third year running. It received the top customer score of 85 per cent as well as five stars for its application process and communication.
Paragon Bank has been crowned a WRP for the first time since 2019, with a score of 82 per cent. Like Marcus, it received top ratings for both its application process and communication.
Coventry Building Society received an overall customer score of 79 per cent, with four or five stars for every element rated. Like many providers, it pays more if you manage your account online and make fewer withdrawals.
Also being granted WRP status, online and app-based provider Zopa achieved a customer score of 78 per cent, scoring five stars for application process, and four stars for communication and transparency.
To ensure Recommended Providers offer consistently competitive accounts, Which? compared their instant-access rates with the market leader over a 12-week period to create a star rating. Coventry Building Society and Paragon Bank received five stars for this and Marcus and Zopa were given four stars.
Allica Bank was the lowest scoring savings provider with a score of 52 per cent. It received just two stars for both customer service and application process. It is primarily aimed at small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) but offers personal savings accounts if you can save at least £10,000.
Which? found that only one in six (17%) savers are currently looking to switch accounts in the next year, which means many could miss out on higher returns as some accounts offer far better interest rates. For example, for instant-access accounts, there’s a two per cent gulf between the best (5.15%) and average (3.16%) rates, equivalent to losing £199 if someone saved a £10,000 pot for a year.
Which? also analysed the best and worst current account providers which saw Starling Bank come top and receive WRP status. Overall, it scored 83 per cent and stood out as one of the best current account providers for mobile banking.
First Direct was also endorsed as a WRP and scored 82 per cent in total. It was commended for telephone banking – receiving a four-star rating while every other bank got three stars or less.
Nationwide is the highest scoring current account provider with a branch network, scoring 78 per cent. It now has 605 UK branches, more than any other banking brand. Its in-branch service received four stars, the highest mark received by any of the banks.
For the second year running, Bank of Ireland UK is the lowest-ranked current account provider, with a score of 63 per cent. Customers gave it an uninspiring three stars for every part of its service. Virgin Money (Clydesdale Bank/Yorkshire Bank) also came near the bottom, scoring 68 per cent overall and just two stars for call waiting times.
High-street stalwarts TSB and HSBC also ranked near the bottom for current accounts scoring 69 per cent each, both receiving just two stars for telephone banking and branch services.
Ele Clark, Senior Money Editor at Which?, said:
“Our research has found leading challenger banks are ahead of the traditional high street names in terms of both customer satisfaction and competitive savings rates.
“Lots of us stick with the same bank for years, but with clear gaps between the best and worst providers, customers unhappy with their service or rate should consider switching.
“If you’re thinking of moving banks, don’t let enticing offers of free cash be your sole motivation. While we could all do with a cash injection right now, poor customer service might prove more frustrating than the introductory offer is worth.”
Notes to editors:
- Which? surveyed 4,178 UK savers and 4,550 current account holders in July 2023. Fieldwork was carried out online by Deltapoll.
- Customer scores are created by combining customers’ overall satisfaction and their likelihood to recommend the brand.
- Which? also surveyed 1,526 people in August 2023 and found only one in six adults with a savings account said they are likely to switch providers in the next year.
- Which? Recommended Providers have a top customer score and at least an average product score. Every year, Which? asks thousands of customers to rate their banks, creating its unique scores by combining customers’ overall satisfaction, and their likelihood to recommend that firm, if asked.
- Product scores are based on Which? analysis of dozens of elements, including fees and charges, and how you can operate the account.
- Which?’s step-by-step guide to how to switch bank accounts can be found here.
- Best savings accounts 2023
- Best banks 2023
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.
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