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Starling Bank attracts switchers as Tesco plans to shut current accounts

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Starling Bank is proving to be one of the big winners in the battle for current account customers, it emerged this week.

And the app-based bank could recruit even more after it was announced on Monday that Tesco Bank is closing all of its customers’ current accounts from the end of November.

That announcement comes hard on the heels of one from Marks & Spencer’s banking arm, M&S Bank, which is shutting down its current accounts on 31 August.

So, all in all, there will be quite a few people looking for a new current account provider during the coming weeks and months. That’s on top of those people who want to switch because they are fed up with their existing bank or can get a better deal elsewhere.

The easiest way of moving to another bank is to switch using the industry’s Current Account Switch Service. This ensures that all direct debits and standing orders and incoming payments such as salary are moved over to the new account. Your new bank will switch your payments and transfer your balance, and your old bank will take care of closing your old account.

Data issued this week for the first three months of this year shows that, of the 50 participating banks, Starling enjoyed the largest “net switching gain”. It gained 18,874 customers during the three months – almost four times as many as Barclays picked up – and lost 1,105 customers, so the net gain figure was 17,769.

Close behind was Virgin Money with a net gain of 17,495 customers.

These figures only include people who used the switch service – there will be quite a lot of people who are not included in the data because they did not use it or this is their first bank.

Founded in 2014, Starling went fully live in 2017 and now boasts 2.37m current accounts. It claims on its website that “someone joins Starling every 38 seconds”.

It offers a range of products including a no-monthly-fee current account that comes with a Mastercard debit card made from recycled plastic. The account lets you do all the things you would expect. It is app-based but you can also manage it from your laptop or computer. One plus point is no fees when you use your card overseas – it uses Mastercard’s exchange rate and does not add anything on top.

Starling has a 4.3 “excellent” score on Trustpilot, although it is fair to say that there are a number of recent one-star reviews.

The bank’s chief executive, Anne Boden, said: “Starling is once again the most popular bank for switches despite offering no signing-on bonuses … In a few short years we’ve become a trusted mainstream bank.”

Virgin Money, meanwhile, claims it is now the UK’s sixth largest bank and includes the Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank brands. It said: “The Virgin brand is clearly shining through … Customers now have a real alternative and are turning their backs on mainstream banks.”

You can usually switch your current account to a new provider even if you are overdrawn, although you will need to agree any overdraft facilities you require with your new bank.

Since the Current Account Switch Service launched in 2013, it has facilitated more than 7.3m switches.

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