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Good Banking Looks Like This
Member Name: campbell06
Date: 10/10/06, updated on 07/04/08 (1537 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent Customer Service, Good Interest Rates, Many Products Available
Disadvantages: No Current/Chequing Accounts
EGG VERSUS OTHER BANKS
The main difference between Egg and a typical high street bank is that Egg do not operate branches and they do not offer current/chequing accounts. You must consider Egg as your secondary bank and maintain a relationship with another bank that does operate a current account. However, the savings in not running branches are passed on to customers in the form of high debit interest rates e.g. the debit interest rate for Egg savings accounts is 5.00% gross AER and the debit interest rate for Egg Cash ISA accounts is 6.05% gross AER.
Another difference is the innovative fusion between credit and debit facilities. Egg offer two credit cards: the Egg Card, which is a Visa credit card, and Egg Money, which is a Mastercard credit card. You may carry a debit or credit balance on an Egg Money account; you pay credit interest of typically 7.90% APR when you owe money but you receive debit interest of 4.00% gross AER when you save money. I can't think of any bank that offers a similar product to Egg Money but, for comparison, I think it is similar to a current account mortgage.
SECURITY, SECURITY, SECURITY
So, if you like what you've read thus far, how do you apply for an Egg bank product? Simply apply online with the usual information and await a printed copy to be posted to you for verification and signing. If you apply for a savings account then you will undergo a statutory money laundering check and if you apply for an account to borrow money (e.g. a loan or credit card) then your credit history will be checked. (You can obtain a copy of your credit history by applying to Experian, Equifax or Callcredit with the statutory £2.00 fee and details of your previous addresses for the past 6 years.)
It is all very quick and easy. The only aspect to point out is the security questions - as Egg operates online, you need to set various question and answers to ensure the security of your accounts such as your mother's maiden name and a password. These are used when logging into your account area and when telephoning a customer service agent (who will ask about 8 questions to verify your identity).
Egg take account security very seriously and in over 4 years I have never experienced any fraud or account breaches. Be prepared for zealous features like having to telephone the bank if you forget your password, being logged out automatically after 15 minutes of inactivity and being telephoned to verify "unusual activities" on your credit card, which can be as innocuous as your additional card holder using a petrol station a hundred miles away at the same time that you were buying the weekly groceries.
The main point of any bank is obviously their savings and current accounts. As I mentioned, Egg does not offer current accounts but they do offer very good savings accounts. You can open several savings accounts and name each account e.g. if you happen to like earmarking different funds as "Nest Egg" and "Sports Car". There are several options to pay in money. You can post a cheque using your paying-in book slips and pre-paid envelopes, you can transfer money from an external account by BACS or CHAPS, you can transfer money from another Egg savings account or you can make a debit card payment. I prefer making debit card payments as the funds are credited for use immediately. Internal transfers take 1-2 days, with the request date as the date of transaction, and external transfers or payments depend on the external bank. Withdrawals are made by BACS, CHAPS (for a £25.00 fee) or by post. I use BACS, which takes 3-4 days. (If you didn't know, CHAPS is an urgent payment method for same day transactions. BACS is what most people use for day-to-day transactions e.g. when your employer pays in your wages.)
There are some historical savings accounts that are closed to new applicants. I will only mention that there used to be a savings account that included a cash card for withdrawing money from ATMs. I never operated this type of account and can only assume it was withdrawn from lack of interest.
CUSTOMER SERVICE SAINTS
Most banks are very hit and miss when it comes to good customer service. If you have a high street bank account, you will probably know there is a great deal of variation between branches - indeed we use a particular branch of our main high street bank that is nowhere near us, solely because the staff at that branch are so efficient and pleasant. However, I can say that customer service at Egg is invariably good. I have only telephoned the bank on a couple of occasions but I have emailed them many times in the past and they have always been pleasant and helpful. Response time is very good. They will email you when there is a response ready in your secure email area (which you then log in to read). You can also get them to email you if there is some server downtime, when the website is running again (you'll see this option when you try to log in, if they are down).
I have held accounts with many different banks in the past, and I have now reached the point where I no longer care about staff being perfect and everything going exactly to plan. I only care about staff being helpful, polite and knowledgeable. Everyone is only human. I cannot say that Egg have never made a mistake (the last one was a typo on my credit card) but they always apologise profusely and immediately rectify the problem. They answer any question, no matter how trivial, with consideration and never make you feel like you're wasting their time. Yes, sometimes it feels like you've received a tick-the-box answer but you can keep asking questions until you are fully satisfied - that's the whole point. Even now, based on my experience with other banks, I sometimes press "send" and wonder if my email has produced a fit of rage or scorn but then I open the response a few hours later and smile with relief to see the words "please" and "thank you" and the pleasantly attempted answer.
I've gone through about 4 or 5 other banks in the time that I've been an Egg customer, that I've ditched for various reasons such as ridiculously expensive fees, lacklustre service and sheer incompetence and rudeness. However, Egg have been angels throughout my time with them - touch wood, they will continue to be so for a long time to come. In fact, Egg are now my benchmark when it comes to judging a good banking experience. I know Egg have had some bad press over account closures in the 2007/08 "credit crunch" but I still think they are a great bank and I'm still willing to say: I wholeheartedly recommend Egg to everyone. You guys rock!
[Please note, interest rates and fees were correct at the time of updating this - April 2008. They may vary in the future e.g. if the base interest rate, set by the Bank of England, changes.]
Summary: Good products, high security levels and service with a 'virtual' smile.
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