Which? reveals best mortgage lenders as coronavirus hits customer service

First Direct, Nationwide and Coventry Building Society have been rated the UK’s best mortgage lenders, according to Which? research, as it revealed many customers who tried to get in touch with their provider since the start of the pandemic have struggled to do so.

The lenders were awarded Which? Recommended Provider status thanks to a combination of excellent performances in a survey of more than 3,600 mortgage holders, which looked at customer service, fee transparency, value for money and more, as well as a rigorous analysis of thousands of mortgage deals.

First Direct achieved an excellent customer score of 77 per cent in the Which? survey, and was highly rated for the transparency of its charges and keeping customers informed.

In addition to its strong performance, it also offered more market-leading top-10 deals than any other lender, contributing to it being named a Which? Recommended Provider.

Similarly, Nationwide and Coventry Building Society also rated highly in consumer champion’s customer survey and its analysis of lenders offering the cheapest deals, meaning that both have been named Which? Recommended Providers.

Nationwide (customer score 77%) was popular with mortgage holders for its overall customer service and payment flexibility, while Coventry (73%) scored four stars for complaint and query handling.

Principality Building Society received a string of five-star scores in categories such as customer service and payment flexibility, but missed out on Which? Recommended Provider status as it did not offer better deals than its rivals.

Chelsea Building Society came at the bottom of this year’s table, with a customer score of just 49 per cent. Customers rated Chelsea only two stars for customer service, flexibility and value for money.

The specialist lender Kensington finished second from the bottom, while Atom Bank and Family Building Society were also rated a paltry two stars for customer service and clarity of statements.

The survey also revealed what impact the pandemic had on borrowers, with one in five (22%) saying they had contacted, or attempted to contact, their lender since the start of the pandemic and six in ten (61%) of those requested a payment holiday.

Of those who had contacted or attempted to contact their lender, more than half (56%) reported having a problem, with three in ten (29%) customers saying they had to wait on the phone for a long time, while 17 per cent left a phone message but didn’t hear back, and 12 per cent emailed but also never heard back from their provider.

Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor, said:

“Choosing a mortgage is one of the biggest financial decisions people will ever make, and our analysis provides help for those who want to know which lenders combine the best service and cheapest rates.

“Good customer service and communication have proven particularly vital since the start of the pandemic, so prospective buyers and remortgagers should factor them in as two of the most important aspects of choosing a mortgage, along with getting a good deal.”

Notes to editors:

  • Which? surveyed 3,625 UK adults between 26th June and 13th July 2020. Fieldwork was carried out online by Dynata and data have been weighted to be representative of the UK population (aged 18+).
  • Our experts also analysed hundreds of mortgages over a four-week period in July 2020. They compiled a total of 208 ‘top-10 cheapest deal’ tables based on a variety of borrowing scenarios, and counted how many times each lender featured in a table.
  • To become a Which? Recommended Provider, mortgage lenders not only have to achieve a customer score of 70% or above; they also need to have appeared in a top-10 deals table at least eight times during the course of our analysis.
  • For more information, visit https://www.which.co.uk/mortgage-lender-reviews (page will be updated with latest results on Saturday 10 October, in line with embargo)
  • 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 endorsementscheme@which.co.uk.

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