Newest Review: ... too good to be true it probably is. I prefer to do my banking online but the Alliance & Leicester website wasn't great for user fr... more
A love-hate relationship with my bank
Alliance & Leicester
Member Name: frangliz
Alliance & Leicester
Advantages: Excellent internet banking service
Disadvantages: No recognition of loyalty
My main complaint is that I don't feel loyal, long-standing customers are given the appreciation I think they deserve. I am not a huge earner, and have on several occasions been turned down when applying for their Premier current account. I am well over the eighteen-year age limit, and I certainly pay in more than the minimum required amount each month. These are the only two conditions stipulated, and they have never been able to give me a concrete reason for refusing to offer me this account.
About six years ago they also turned down my mortgage application. In spite of this, I was able to obtain a mortgage from Cheltenham and Gloucester, and have never once been in arrears, so Alliance Leicester surely lost out there.
So why do I stay with them? Partly because I find their internet banking service so easy and convenient to use. As I have an Apple Mac without Internet Explorer (I use Safari), I am afraid that if I switch banks I might not be able to use the website. I have a business account with the Co-op Bank, and have not been able to use their internet banking service at all.
Internet Banking is a service that I would find it difficult to be without, as it is so easy to pay credit card bills and transfer money between accounts. I have an Online Saver account with Alliance Leicester that does pay a relatively decent rate of interest. Both my sons have joint Alliance Leicester Easysaver accounts with me, and by registering them online I can make instant transfers between my current account and these savings accounts. When one of my sons was away from home and flat broke, he was able to ring me and ask me to make an instant transfer so that he could withdraw right away from a cash machine. (Some of you might say that is a disadvantage!)
Another advantage of Alliance Leicester's internet banking is their Online Saver account, which currently pays 4.5% interest. The minimum balance is just £1, and the beauty of it is that you can make instant transfers between your current account and your Online Saver account 24 hours a day. There is a new Direct Saver account which pays 5.38% interest, but the minimum balance is £5,000.
I recently needed make a transfer in Euros from my business account with the Coop to a bank in France. On telephoning the Coop bank, I was told that they could only accept my instructions by fax or in writing. Since I do not have a fax machine and wanted to make the transfer that day, I decided to contact Alliance Leicester and make the transaction from my personal account. They were able to take the details from me over the phone in a matter of minutes, so there I do give them credit.
On the whole I find the staff in the branches helpful and friendly, and these comments are based on three nearby branches that I use quite regularly (Havant, Southsea and Chichester). Before the days of internet banking I used their telephone service frequently, and only once spoke to a member of staff who had insufficient knowledge. I was, however, often left waiting in a queue for longer than I found acceptable on the phone.
I do feel that the amount of advertising in their branches is over the top, and I've never appreciated their gaudy blue and orange colour scheme. Even more annoying to me is the amount of advertising material sent out with their statements, which in my case goes straight in the recycling bin. My son has an account with Barclays and he never seems to receive leaflets with his statements. Perhaps interest rates could be raised slightly if advertising costs were cut.
I keep wondering whether to change my bank, but is it a question of better the devil you know than the devil you don't?
Summary: Pros and cons of Alliance Leicester