Why does First Direct come out top of the ratings so often? Because of the ease of speaking to a customer services representative. Honestly that is the bottom line of it, when you have a problem you pick up the phone, you dial a number and within a minute you are speaking to someone who can actually access your account and give you a more personal answer to your problem.
Apart from that they really are no better or no worse than any other bank. Let's be honest, you open a bank account you have your money paid in and you have your direct debits come out of it, if you are fortunate enough to have any wages left at the end you have a card that you can use to pop into the hole in the wall and make a withdraw.
It is hardly any wonder that First Direct do so well in this area, they are an Internet and telephone banking service after all. You only really judge a banks service when you have a problem and I can assure you, if First Direct offered an offshore call centre service with representatives reading from a script or if it took you 3-4 minutes of pushing 1 for this on your keypad or 2 for that before getting through to them then fewer people would rate them so highly.
I have been a member for 20 years and I would rate them as a decent bank, I wouldn't say they are any better than their parent company HSBC or any better than Nationwide or Barclay's but then they are no worse. My only gripe with them is their online messaging service, I am constantly offered credit cards and loans, twice now I have applied. Both times I have been declined so I questioned why send me these online messages if I do not fir the criteria?
They apologised and said it wouldn't happen again but it did 6 months later. I sometimes receive $ USA cheques to pay into my account, their charges are pretty good and funds appear in your account pretty quickly, their charges are actually lower than HSBC which is most strange.
Try everything so that they do not pay the satisfaction guarantee.
Having already reviewed them on one site,..here's my story in resume. I am so angered by their behavior, I feel compelled to share it so people know what they are like. The true test of a bank like insurance is when you need it,..every insurance policy I have had has been excellent at collecting my premiums.
Have been banking with FD for 17 years. I became a freelancer/self employed and therefore, had to take a business account with someone else. That meant that since June last year, my salary did not go into my FD account. I have an impeccable A+ credit rating. Never missed a payment. Only debt I have is my mortgage. I travel extensively.
The situation: So, no money going into FD account regularly. Only sporadically. BUT account in credit!!! I have some direct debits going through including Life insurance, and 12.50 for FIRST Directory (their own insurance product). No problems in terms of financing. Even my credit card was in CREDIT!!!!!!
I was on holiday in the US, and received a message to call them back. I did, but due to timing they said nobody was there to take my call. I asked if it was urgent. "No,...call them back when you get back".
I get bak,..and two days after, I get a call from them.
FD: "Sir, we have suspended all your banking services"
ME: "Wow, what happened? Am I overdrawn, did I have my identity stolen?"
FD: "No, you failed to make in regular payments"
ME: "And for that,..you can just close my account?????"
FD: "We can Sir, and we have. This is to notify you that your accounts are closed and we would appreciate it if you could destroy all your cards and provide us with an account number so we can credit that account with your outstanding balance".
AFTER 17 YEARS. Read more?...They are a fair weather bank. They have no concept of you as a customer. Try stopping paying in and keeping <1000 in the account. Within 3 months they will close your account. No discussion. No nothing! Beware. You have been warned.
Other things, and you can check this out:
- If you take money out abroad, if you have First Directory, they SAY that the withdrawl is free. This is a FALSE statement. The exchange rate ensures you not only pay for the withdrawl, but that you pay a premium, especially if the withdrawl is > 100gbp.
- Their lending is fiercly uncompetitive
- The advertise 24x7 call centre but if you phone out of normal hours, you will be on hold,..sometimes longer than 5 mins,...and when you get through, you cannot do what you need to and are requested to call back the following day.
- First Direct is the ONLY bank account of mine that has been hacked. And when it was, I was sent a shimmy of forms to complete (obviously to put me off claiming!!!!).
- If you YOU are not profitable for THEM, you will be out. Make no mistake, there is NO customer service.
Try it once. Complain, about something. Anything. To see how they react. You will see, there is no-one who will take accountability!!!
Filled in all the forms for current account and savings account. Also went for credit card as the website was offering a free flight to Europe. Contacted them about a few minor queries and asked what the timescale was for processing the credit card as the free flight had a cutoff date of 31 October. Was told it had now closed (28 October).
Then got told by another csa that the flight offer was only available to existing customers applying for a card. Misled twice over the same deal, and with no come and go on the issue, I cancelled the card application. What a terrible welcome for a customer. I have only changed to First Direct as they have none of the nightmare overseas call centres.
At least they answer the phone quickly and pleasantly even if they dont want to go the extra mile. Havent lived up to their hype for me so far.
I changed my banking to First Direct about 15 years ago, maybe more. I had previously banked with Lloyds and Halifax. I have never regretted changing to First Direct. I used to use their brilliant 24hr telephone banking service and ATM's for years while others queued in bank branches. Now those services are supplemented by the brilliant First Direct online banking service. The First Direct telephone banking staff have always been friendly and helpful, and I have always been treated as a valued customer. On the very rare occasions over the years that I have made silly mistakes resulting in charges, they even waived those charges once I explained the silly mistakes. I have had a couple of First Direct mortgage products (offset and conventional repayment) over the years too, and the staff have been equally helpful dealing with the mortgage as dealing with my current and asavings acounts. I recommend First Direct. Jonathan Rackowe, 2010
I was with LloydsTsb since I left school until last year = a long time. I'm a bit of a tart with all of my other accounts, utilities etc but I've never felt the need to change my bank account and I was fairly happy with them.
In October I applied for an offset mortgage with First Direct who are a division of HSBC. They don't have branches and everything is dealt with online or by telephone but you can pay in money at HSBC branches.
Their telephone operators are excellent. Very friendly, helpful and polite. I cannot fault them. The service I have received has been exemplary. I was informed by text message at every step as my mortgage application progressed. I had to open a bank account with them as an offset mortgage means my mortgage interest is offset against savings and the balance in my current account. I didn't realise about the £100 incentive for opening the account until I saw it sitting there which was a nice surprise!
The transition between bank accounts was handled by First Direct and was seamless.
It's great to be able to log in online and see my bank account, savings and mortgage balance on one screen. You can move money between accounts easily but I must admit I prefer LloydsTsb online banking screens as I think they are easier to use.
I can't ever see me wanting to move from First Direct - their customer service can't be bettered in my opinion.
A helpful tip for people that prefer to use geographical numbers - call 01132 345678 for telephone banking. I always use this as I get free landline minutes on my mobile.
I know that I have written a few reviews recently about First Direct (a division of HSBC Bank plc) and their products and facilities and 'no', I do not work for them and am not on any commission! However, I would be delighted to work for them as I think they are absolutely first class.....
After 30 years of banking with the Halifax I moved to First Direct for my banking. The reason I moved was because I took out a mortgage with First Direct and one of the conditions for getting a mortgage was that I had to open a bank account with them.
I can quite honestly say that First Direct are like a breath of 'fresh air' in the world of banking. This is one of the best moves I have ever made and I am delighted with the outstanding customer service and the excellent products that First Direct offer.
One of the most pleasing things about First Direct is the superb level of customer service. Whenever I ring customer service I speak to a real friendly person in the UK! The call is usually answered very promptly ie within 3-4 rings. There are no frustrating automated telephone messages etc - it's telephone heaven!
Calls are answered in the UK, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It does not surprise me, therefore, that in 2008 First Direct won the "Best Call Centre in the UK" award . This was not just for being the best banking call centre mind but the best call centre across all industries.
The operators are always, very pleasant, courteous and extremely efficient. You are treated as an individual. Every telephone conversation is recorded and noted. I recently contacted them to ask if I could change the day my mortgage was paid. They said that they would get back to me as soon as possible with the answer to my request. Sure enough they rang back to say that was fine...They even rang my workplace because they could not get me at home....
**Features of Banking with First Direct**
First Direct offer a financial incentive to first time customers. At the moment, if you switch your bank account to them, they will give you £100. You will need to credit your account with £1500 per month within the first three months to get the incentive.
So confident are First Direct that you will be absolutley delighted with their services and products that they also offer a further £100 by way of a 'Satisfaction Guarantee'! If, within 12 months you are not happy with First Direct and you have paid in at least £1,500 a month for six months they will give you a further £100 for the inconvenience of having switched your account and help you to move your account. You will have had to have used their Easyswitch service when you transferred your accounts.
With Easyswitch First Direct take care of your transfer. They will obtain details of your Standing Orders and Direct Debits from your previous bankers and arrange to transfer them for you. If there is a failure in the switching process First Direct will refund any charges or interest you paid to them and if you are a Northern Ireland customer your old bank will refund any charges or interest you paid to them.
**Interest Free Overdraft**
You will get an automatic £500 formal overdraft at account opening. The first £250 of your overdraft is interest free. An arrangement fee may apply if you request an overdraft more than once every 6 months. Overdrafts above £250 will be charged at 15.9% EAR variable.
Banking with first direct usually costs £10 a month, but it is free when you pay in at least £1,500 to your 1st Account each month, maintain an average monthly 1st Account balance of £1,500 or hold a first direct mortgage.
The 'sweep facility' means that once a month, on whichever date you prefer , you can automatically sweep up any money you have not spent into a savings account.
**Operating Your Account**
. You can operate your account in a number of ways.
- Through internet banking.
- Through telephone banking
- Mobile banking
The internet banking site is easy to navigate and use. You can view balances and receive statements online, monitor transactions , set up payment details, pay bills, move money between accounts, set up and manage text message banking, request PINs, replacement cards and paying in books, view, set up, cancel and amend standing orders and direct debits, access rates and charges, order travel money online, apply for a personal loan, apply for a first direct credit card, get an Agreement in Principle for an offset Mortgage, check credit card balances, check offset Mortgage balances and repayments, apply for a savings account, check savings account balances, view and print up to 27 months' transactions (up to a maximum of 200), access ISA balances and transfer funds into your account.
To operate your account by telephone you just need to call 08456100100. You will be asked some security questions that include your post code, some memorable data and 2 or 3 characters of your telephone password. You will then be able to complete any transactions with the help of a customer service agent.
You can operate your account by mobile. You can use the website to set up and recieve text alerts to make it easier for you to manage your money. You can arrange for mini statements to be sent to your mobile. In this way you can keep a check on transactions from anywhere in the world. You can receive a text alert if your balance falls below a certain figure etc...
You can use your first direct debit card to withdraw up to £500 a day free of ATM charges from HSBC/LINK cash machines in the UK. This is a great withdrawal rate and is much higher than most other banks.
You can either pay in cheques by post using the freepost envelopes that are sent with the welcome pack or you can pay in at any of the HSBC Bank branches. Freepost enevelopes can be ordered from the First direct website.
**Opening an Account **
You can open an account either through the First Direct website or by completing an application form. You will then receive a welcome pack. The pack contains transfer salary forms and a form to move direct debits and standing orders to your First Direct account. You also have a form to send to your old bank if you wish to close your old bank account. You will be asked to choose a date from which you want the payments to be made from your First Direct account to start.
It is important that you allow First Direct at least 20 working days to complete the transfers. Before this date direct debits and standing orders due will be taken from your old bank account so do ensure there are sufficient funds in your old bank account to enable these transactions to be made.
You will be issued with a debit card, cheque book and paying book. These will arrive within a couple of weeks of the opening of the account. Statements are issued monthly but you can choose to opt for paperless statements online.
The only downside to First Direct is that they do not pay any interest on their current account. However, I believe that current accounts are not savings accounts and it is possible using the sweep facility to divert any spare cash at the end of the month into a savings account with a higher rate of interest.
Overall I would thoroughly recommend First Direct to anyone....
This review may also be found on other review sites under the name of 'Krazikas'.
I moved to First Direct a couple of years ago as I had heard good things about their products and their customer service. The £50 that they were offering to anyone who switched to their current account didn't exactly put me off either!
OK, their products may not be the best and you can find better interest paying accounts elsewhere, but this is a proper solid bank that is not going to go bust anytime soon. If you want an internet bank account together with the security of knowing that your hardearned money is sitting in one of the largest high street banks then this is probably the account for you.
I also have to say that I have not been disappointed by the customer service and would agree that it is everything that it is cracked up to be. I've been very impressed. The website is also easy to find your way around and I've never ever had a problem with anything to do with the account.
The one thing that spoils the whole experience is the £10 charge that you are hit with each month just for having a current account with them. Whilst this can be avoided by having your salary paid in each month, for those of us whose income is a little less regular, this is a real pain.
However, that apart, a first class bank with a first class customer service that won't disappoint you.
Since joing First Direct a few years okay, I dont think I would be able to consider using another Bank again, I use them for my Credit Card , my wages are transferred into my account every month, I have an ISA with them and an E-Savers account. In my opinon the First Direct Fraud team are brilliant on several occasions they have phoned me (mostly when Im abroad) within 5 mins of me trying to make a transaction from a cash machine in a town/country which I have never visited. They are on the ball, which contiunously makes me feel secure in the knowledge that my money is safe.
Being an online bank is the best thing about First Direct, the website is clean , understandable and easy to navigate around on, when you go to the log in section a seperate window will open to complete the password security which is also selected at Random I cant recall ever having to enter the same login details, for my password, once your in you can control all financial matters, all of my direct debits are managed via the site as well as ordering new credit cards, loans etc. and as a fantastic extra postage paid envelopes.
On the off chance that you ever need to call first direct you will be put thorugh to usually a scottish extremly friendly and helpful adviser!!
First Direct are my bank of choice and the one wher my salary is paid into every month, First Direct is part of the HSBC Group and while it is an internet bank you do have access to the branches to pay money in through if you want, I have only eer done that once in the three years I have been with them. The rest of the time I use the post for cheques and then the internet for everything else.
The website is well set out and easy to navigate, the background is black with the products down the left hand side and a few large adverts in the middle, across the top are the log in links to be able to access you account, when you go to the log in section a seperate window will open to complete the password security and then to do any transaction on your account, all of my bill payments are managed via the site as well as ordering new paying in books and postage paid envelopes.
Finding information is easy as all the links are obvious and the information is well set out. The security to access your account is pretty good, you have a user name wich you input, then a random three letters or numbers from your password the prompt for which changes each time and then finally a confirmation word. After any period on inactivity you are automatically logged out.
The sitehas quick loading times and runs really well, rarely is any of the functions not available and of course it is open 24 hours a day with an excellent call centre where you speak to a real person not a load of automated buttons as a back up as well.
Just joined after getting fed up with shoddy treatment at A&L. Here's a comparison, based on my experience: To get through to a grumpy, rude individual at A&L involves 5 to 10 minutes of options, security numbers, awful depressing music, PINS, automated lectures about how seriously they take 'customer security' blah blah blah.To get through to a polite, approachable professional at FD takes ONE RING. Just ONE RING. I think that says it all, really. I've been with A&L for about 18 years, but I would have left them much sooner had I realised that there are other banks out there, like FD, who still believe in great customer service.
I have been with First Direct for some years and have been v. pleased with them. Especially their phone service - no `press 1 or 2 etc.Only once has something gone wrong - separated from my husband we continue to have a joint account but when he changed his address mine was changed to his in error. My statements went to his address. Luckily no harm was done and situation rectified immediately.
First Direct is they type of bank that you will want to stay at, for starters they offer you £50 for switching your account to theirs.
Once signed up their website provides an easy to use interface which is very secure; something that we all appreciate in this day and age.
free day-to-day banking
automatic fee free £500 overdraft - subject to status 10.9% EAR variable
£500 a day cash machine withdrawals
bank online, by telephone and text message
we help you transfer your salary, standing orders and direct debits
up to 2.00% AER (1.98% gross) interest on credit balances
card with chip and PIN technology for greater security
a 15 year proven track record of satisfied customers.
On the downside there isnt a student type account at the moment and no plans for one in the near future therefore this bank tends to be for an established banker who doesnt have time to go into the branch and would rather setle everything online.
They are reletively standard in terms of other products and services, the loans offer a rate of 7.4% APR typical which is pretty reasonable, the morgage rate is about 5.4-5.6% depending on the type.
Something that interested me though is the fact that they have introduced text message banking which seems to me rather pointless and unsecure. However it will be nice to see if this takes off. The idea is that your transactions and mini statements are texted to you by Firstdirect on a regular basis for a fee of £2.50 per month, this is so you can keep track of your spending and i suppoes it wil offer insight into aqny fradulent activity a little earlier.
In conclusion i think that first direct is worth a bit of personal research and even if you dont use the account its nice to have £50 for nothing isnt it?
Joining First Direct was the biggest mistake I ever made. I opened an account with them after leaving university and when I had very little disposable income. They did, as they do with evey new customer, give me a £500 overdraft. This is not out of generosity, I can assure you. I was often close to the limit and they charged me any chance they got, even if I exceeded it by only a few hours. They would then charge me the following month, wven though it was their charges that had put me over the limit to begin with. Stay clear of them, they are crap.