New Which? analysis reveals the gulf in value between the best and worst packaged bank accounts, with the worst offering limited insurance cover and savings of just £16 a year after fees.
The consumer champion analysed all 13 packaged accounts offered by high street banks, calculating the value and quality of each benefit included in the account to reveal if it was worth the fee.
Each account was also given an overall account score based on annual cost, value after fees and the quality of the core insurance elements – travel insurance, car breakdown cover and mobile phone insurance.
Barclays’ Tech Pack account finished bottom of the table with a dismal score of 20 per cent. The account does offer comprehensive mobile phone and gadget cover worth around £190 a year, but there is no travel insurance or car breakdown cover. With an annual fee of £174, this would only save customers £16 a year.
NatWest/RBS’s Reward Silver account was rated the second worst packaged account, albeit with a considerably better score of 46 per cent. It has no car breakdown cover and only offers limited travel and mobile phone insurance cover. However, it offers discounted cinema tickets and a free restaurant discount card instead of comprehensive insurance cover.
Nationwide’s FlexPlus account was rated the best packaged account with an impressive score of 87 per cent. As well as worldwide travel insurance with winter sports covered as standard, the account offers customers comprehensive car breakdown and mobile cover. Altogether, these benefits are worth more than £300, which could save customers £180 a year once fees are deducted.
Despite being £18 cheaper than the Barclays Tech Pack, Nationwide’s FlexPlus account is far more generous, offering a greater variety of insurance benefits.
First Direct’s First Directory account finished in second place, with insurance cover worth more than £300 that could save customers £156 a year after fees.
Which? also found a number of providers are increasing the fee for packaged accounts without offering additional or upgraded benefits.
TSB’s Silver and Platinum accounts finished joint third from bottom, after it announced both accounts will be raising monthly fees by up to £3 in September without any improvement to benefits for customers.
Halifax’s Ultimate Reward account, which finished mid-table, also recently bumped up its monthly fee (from £15 to £17 in October 2018) without introducing any additional benefits.
Which? also analysed packaged accounts offered by challenger banks Monzo and N26, however both offered seemingly few benefits for steep annual fees.
Monzo Plus, currently being rolled out with more benefits to be announced, costs users £6 a month for an exclusive card and access to events but offers no insurance cover. Users can pay an extra £4 a month for family worldwide travel insurance cover from Axa, bringing the annual cost to £120.
N26’s Metal account costs a hefty £14.90 a month, yet only offered substandard travel insurance for adults under 66, a stainless steel debit card and ‘partner offerings’, such as a free desk once a month at any WeWork location.
Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor, said:
“Packaged accounts can offer a cheaper and more convenient way for people to get insurance, however our analysis shows that not all are created equal. Some offer lower quality cover and limited value for money.
“Customers should scrutinise the fees and benefits of packaged accounts before signing up – they’ll only save you money if you make use of the benefits.”
Notes to editors:
Which? calculated the total value of each account based on the cost of the equivalent best-rated travel insurance, car breakdown cover from AA, mobile phone insurance and any other insurance included. The account score is weighted by the annual cost and value after fees (30%), quality of travel insurance (30%), car breakdown cover (30%) and mobile phone insurance (10%).
Please see the full table of best and worst packaged accounts below. The top-scoring accounts for each individual insurance element are highlighted in dark pink:
Table footnotes: [a] 3% interest on balances up to £2,500 [b] Age extension available for a fee [c] Minimum monthly funding of £1,000 [d] Also includes gadget insurance [e] Also includes six free visits to airport lounges each year [f] Also includes home emergency cover. Minimum monthly funding £750 or monthly fee rises to £17 [g] 2% cashback on bills paid by direct debit if you deposit at least £1,500 a month. Save up to 40% on cinema tickets [h] Temporarily unavailable to new customers. Annual cost effective from 2nd Sept ’19.