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Halifax - the best to bank with
Member Name: Huomenna
Date: 14/07/11, updated on 14/07/11 (183 review reads)
Advantages: easy to open and use accounts, well set out online banking, friendly and helpful staff
Disadvantages: none for me
After having a ridiculous (and frankly easy to solve) problem banking with Nationwide, that resulted in a very long argument via letter, I decided 'sod them' and jumped ship hoping to find somewhere that actually wanted my business. To be honest I did absolutely no research before I picked who to open a current account with, but I got lucky when Halifax was the first one I saw on my trip into town.
Opening an account:
I've been banking with Halifax now since 2007 and not had a single problem with them. Opening a current account was easy - I walked into a branch, went to the information desk and asked if I could open an account, they led me to an office at the back where a member of staff asked me a few basic questions, such as what type of account I require and checked my credit history (fyi at the time I had a weekend job, was a university student, no debt and had never gone overdrawn). They had no qualms in giving me the current account that I desired and at the time they also asked if I would like an overdraft of credit card, both of which I declined and was pushed no further.
All the paperwork and my new debit card arrived in the post shortly afterwards, including all the necessary instructions on how to get started with internet banking (at the time I didn't bother - I finally got around to it in 2010).
The instore experience:
I've been into a number of Halifax branches (mainly Hounslow, Richmond upon Thames, Chichester and Bognor Regis) and found them all to offer a high quality standard of service with minimal waiting times, unlike some other banks I could mention...
Staff at the counter are pleasant, helpful and usually chatty. They carry out your requests efficiently and always ask at the end of a transaction whether or not there is anything else you need. Recently they implemented a new system where you have to fill out a paying in or withdrawal slip before proceeding to the counter - I presume this is an attempt to speed things up although I can't say I've noticed a difference, they've always been pretty fast.
Yesterday I rediscovered an account with them that my father had opened for me over 11 years ago - the only evidence I had of it was a tax certificate from 2009. I rang up their helpline who told me that to access the account I needed to go into a branch with two forms of ID and they'd effectively let me do what I wanted with the money. I went into the branch today and told them the above situation, the woman behind the counter typed in the roll number from the certificate, checked my ID (passport and driving licence) and told me how much was in there (£702.32 yay!). She then asked what I wanted to do with the money so I asked that it all be transferred to my current account, then closed down which she did within a few seconds - the money was ready for me to access immediately. This was just one of the positive experiences I've had dealing with Halifax although I imagine the above process might be a little more complicated if you don't have any other accounts with them.
I decided to apply for an overdraft a few months ago so I went into branch to enquire about one - they were very helpful and asked how much I wanted, at the time I asked for £250 and with a swipe of my card and a few taps on the keyboard this was activated. At a later date I went back in an asked for the amount to be raised (to help with an important camera purchase I shall mention again later) this they also did within a couple of minutes. On a regular current account the arranged overdraft fee stands at £1 a day, you can also upgrade your current account to a paid for one (which I don't have) but it does gives you a 'free' overdraft of £300 so it may be handy if you use your overdraft on a regular basis. As a further note, even if you don't have an official overdraft, Halifax will let you go overdrawn by £5 before you incur any fees.
Well I did eventually get around to signing up for internet banking - last year when I figured it might actually be quite handy. I can't remember the exact sign up process, but suffice to say it was pretty simple. I now find that I use my internet banking pretty much every day.
Initially I just had my current account on there which I then used to make payments to my mum's account (with another bank) for rent etc - this happen's almost instantly, within two hours if you request transfer to be made on the same day. I feel this is excellent as my boyfriends account with Alliance and Leicester/Santander can take a week to do exactly the same thing, even though his money leaves the account the instant a payment is requested. If Halifax can do it why can't they?
I then procceded to open an ISA with Halifax to put some general savings into and the day before yesterday I opened an easy access savings account online (this took me 5 minutes to do and was available to use immediately - just waiting for my cashcard to come through in the post for it). When I'm signed onto internet banking all my accounts are listed with the amounts they contain and various options, which I find very handy. Clicking on to each account gives a detailed list of transactions.
I eventually opened a credit card with Halifax as a bit of camera equipment I desperately wanted came up second hand at a too good to miss price and I didn't have enough in my account to pay for it. I wanted one that was interest free for a set number of months to enable me to pay back the amount over a few months without getting charges. I applied online as their interest free for 10 months credit card was not available in branch, again this was a simple process to do and it arrived fairly quickly.
I set up a direct debit with the minimum payment to go out wach month and the option to pay as much as I want on top (the man on the phone was very helpful in explaining how it all worked as I never had a credit card before). As my credit card also shows up with my other accounts on my online banking, I can make transfers here to pay off more.
Halifax offer a wide range of additional services - the majority of which I admit to being mainly ignorant of. I've recently been seriously thinking about getting on the property ladder (hence setting up the new savings account) so I had a quick look on their site with regards to mortgages and discovered they have a handy and quick to use mortgage calculator - you basically put in a couple of bits of financial information (pre tax income, additional income and monthly financial commitments) and they generate a rough mortgage amount they would offer you. Of course this is only a rough guide but I found it very handy in giving me an idea of how much deposit I will need to try to save up and how much more per year I'll have to start earning!
Overall I would thoroughly recommend Halifax - I've used them for 4 years, with numerous account types, find them very helpful and never had a single problem.
Summary: The best bank I've ever used
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