First Direct and Nationwide have come out on top in Which?’s annual mortgage lender survey, with both named Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs) for offering a combination of excellent customer service and consistently competitive rates.
With speculation that interest rate rises could be on the way, it is more important than ever that prospective homeowners and remortgagers do their research and find the right deal and provider.
The consumer champion surveyed more than 3,500 homeowners and analysed thousands of mortgage deals to find which providers offered impressive customer service and the best rates.
Lenders were scored on multiple aspects of customer service, including: keeping customers informed, clarity of mortgage statements, transparency of charges or penalties, dealing with queries and complaints, flexibility of payments, online access and value for money.
First Direct came out on top, receiving an impressive customer score of 81 per cent. Its customers gave it five stars across the board, and the lender consistently offered some of the cheapest deals on the market.
Nationwide earned an overall customer score of 77 per cent and was also named a WRP for the eighth year in a row. The building society achieved five-star ratings for value for money and clarity of its mortgage statements.
Coventry Building Society received the joint-top score of 81 per cent, achieving five stars for customer service, clarity of mortgage statements and keeping you well informed, among others. However, it missed out on becoming a WRP because it did not offer enough market-leading deals.
Royal Bank of Scotland received the lowest score in this year’s survey, with an overall customer score of 64 per cent. RBS received three stars for its general customer service, flexibility of payments and online access, among other criteria.
While nearly nine in 10 (87%) respondents told the consumer champion that they were satisfied with their mortgage provider, a quarter (24%) said they had had a problem with their lender. The most commonly cited issues included poor customer service, a lack of flexibility on payments and poor interest rates.
When asked why they chose a lender, around one in five (21%) respondents said the size of monthly repayments was important, while the same number said the overall cost of the deal was key. One in six (16%) respondents said an existing relationship with the lender (for example, having a bank account with the provider) was a key factor.
Seven in 10 (72%) of survey respondents had a capital remortgage payment plan. However one fifth (20%) had interest-only mortgages. While the majority of respondents with interest-only mortgages had a plan for repayment at the end of the term, worryingly 9 per cent said they did not know how they would repay their loan – meaning they could be forced to sell their home at the end of the term to repay the balance.
Gareth Shaw, Head of Which? Money, said:
“Buying a house is the most expensive purchase most of us will make in our lifetime, so finding a mortgage deal that’s right for you is essential – especially when the outlook for interest rates in the year ahead is uncertain.
“Recently, we’ve seen reputable lenders offering record-breaking low rates, meaning it’s possible to find a deal that combines value for money with great customer service. As ever, doing a bit of research and talking to a whole-of-market broker before committing is likely to pay off.”
Notes to Editors
- Which? surveyed 3,504 members of the public who have a mortgage between 6th and 26th July 2021
- To become a Which? Recommended Provider, mortgage lenders not only have to achieve a customer score of 70% or above. Our experts analysed hundreds of mortgages over a four-week period in July and August 2021. They compiled over 200 ‘top-10 cheapest deal’ tables based on a variety of borrowing scenarios, and counted how many times each lender featured in a table. WRPs must consistently offer table-topping mortgage deals over various product types, as well as be fully covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Financial Conduct Authority banking standards regime.
Table of results
The full updated table will be live on the morning of Friday 15 October 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.
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