I have been banking with ICICI for about 2 years and have both a fixed bond thing, and an instant access savings account. I opened them both because at the time the rates were high and at the top of all of the rates tables but no I think my instant access one has fallen through the roof and I have no idea (fixed bond at 7% though oooh yeah!). Regardless I still have it there because I am lazy, and there isn't much money in it.
I was a bit apprehensive at first because I had never heard of them, they aren't British and it is all an online thing but they are FSCS (I think) approved up to £50,000 and I don't have anything near that so I figured I would be ok. I have had to call them a few times to sort out things like passwords and the call centres are based in India and I found it very hard to communicate with the person on the phone but eventually we got there and my problems were resolved.
This bank only really gets in touch with you to tell you rate changes, and when your account matures (my mum got one that expired a few months ago) they don't send you much post, nothing you don't need and no spam, its great.
The login is ok and they offer a virtual keyboard for further security which is pretty good idea. They also have lots of information online and a very easy and simple to navigate website which is good because at least the info is there and you don't have to go into a branch (good because there aren't any!).
I don't really know if it is helping the Indian economy or if I should be trying to help Britain by banking in Britain but I don't really understand it to be honest. At least when I get the interest it will be spent in Britain so that has to be good for the country I think.
I get my interest paid monthly and it just goes into the account. One thing is though that it takes a long time to transfer between my other accounts and this one. Like it can take a week to get money not exactly instant access in my opinion..
Apart from this it seems fine and I a happy to keep using it. I do think though that when my fixed bond matures I will leave and take all of my money elsewhere because I am trying to save up for a house deposit so want my money to be working as hard as I am and earning as much interest as possible!
I was somewhat dubious when my dear husband persuaded me to open an account with Icici. For a start, there's the name, which sounds made up, the fact that it's an internet only account (my hard-earned savings, lost on the net!?), then fact that I'd never heard of them didn't help inspire confidence, and the fact that their parent bank is Indian made me wonder if their customer support would resemble that of various India-based call centres I have been redirected to lately!
However, the experience has been far from excruciating. Unlike other savings accounts (naming no names!) the interest rate, which was the strongest incentive to set up the account, has remained competitive for the two and a half years I have held the account. The account is operated online. You have a linked account (your existing current account or any other account of your choosing). Whenever you wish you simply log into your Icici account, transfer money to or from your linked account, and log out again. They don't spam you constantly, or relinquish your details to any third parties. Their support - via phone, letter or email - are prompt and helpful.
In spite of the recent turmoil in the banking world, and particularly many people's understandable concerns about foeign banks, I would have no difficulty in recommending this bank to others. It may be a subsidiary of a foreign bank, but it is operated under UK legislation and is backed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme - so if anything bad were to happen to this bank, up to £50,000 of your money would be guaranteed safe, just like any other UK bank. In spite of starting with the same letters, this is not another Icesave waiting to happen! Furthermore, Icici is the largest private bank in a country which has not been affected by the current credit crunch nearly as adversely as Britain.
However, it's not all sunshine and lollipops for Icici customers. For a start, as I mentioned, this is an internet only account, and on their website the company make much of their 24-hour access advantage over brick and mortar accounts. Icici's servers have been less than reliable over the last couple of years, and have had a tendency to crash just when I want to access my account. This is the internet equivalent of a high street bank closing its doors to customers!
Furthermore, even when the servers are working, logging in is not without its drawbacks. The system requires you to log in every six months. Failure to do so will result in a password reset. If, like me, you prefer to just leave your money to accumulate interest and forget about it, it can be very easy to forget to log in. If you try to log in six months and one day after your last "visit", your password will have been reset. You will then have to fill in the password request form online - which can be a trial if their servers are having a slow day! - and wait around ten days for them to send you a new password by post. Sometimes they forget to change the ribbon in the printer, so the password you receive is illegible. Then you have to request it again, and wait a further ten days. This can induce high blood pressure, foot stamping and temper tantrums when you suddenly need access to your "instant access" account. Furthermore, even when you do manage to log on and instruct the rather unfriendly system to transfer funds to your linked account, the process is far from instant and usually takes at least three days.
On the whole, I've been very happy with the account. I'm in the fortunate position that I haven't needed "instant" access to my account, and I've even been able to take advantage of the very high interest fixed rate bonds they've been offering lately. If you want somewhere to dump your money and rake in the interest, with the convenience of online banking, this account can be wonderful. However, if you want genuine instant access to your money, and an impeccable system that works every time, this won't be the bank for you.
As with many people that had opened accounts with this bank, I too opened one due to it being at the top of many rating tables. 5.15% with no min limit on how much you must save per month, and no min time limit on how long the money has to sit in there. It is a good pot for a rainly day.
My personal experence, just like the rest here, fill in a few forms online and they emailed me back requesting a few documents. However I do not want to spend money sending things like my passport by special delivery, so I called them up and asked if I can bring them into their Manchester branch instead. They told me no problem. For once a bank that is NOT british and yet understand english!!! (See my review on Barclaycard)
So I went to their branch, which is in one of the not-so-pretty area of Manchester. They took a few photocopies, and I went on my way. Few days later, my password come in the post and also the account number comes in my email. All I need is to send them a cheque and I am up and running.
One thing I have to say is about the size of the branch is just about the size of a corner shop. Not very confident infusing. Anyway, I will be protected for my first £2000 and I am no where near that yet, so it will not be a problem for me, now.
Currently I am set up for monthly payment into their account, to make sure I save and not spend all my pay. Interest is paid monthly, and 20% tax is taken away from the interest.
One little problem that I have with their web system is you do not get to choose your own login name (you can change your password though). I have to keep that email with the info on it in order to login to my account. I do not have any problems with them yet (touch wood), and I think they can be recommended to people who want a high interest account with little strings attached.
Of course if you can afford £1000 a month, there are some better ones out there.