I have been a customer of Nationwide Building society for almost 20 years and in that time I have found them to be excellent. They deserve their good reputation in my books.
I have a number of financial products with them and have always found their processes simple and easy to understand, their staff helpful and their customer service very good. I have never experienced any hard sell from any of their staff. The branches are always clean and bright, and I have never had to wait long to be seen – although I now only rarely need to use the counter services. There are machines in branches which carry out most functions – and this means service is quick and efficient.
The internet banking interface is excellent –really simple and easy to follow. I have sight of all of my accounts and products on the one screen and it’s easy to keep a track of all transactions. It is easy to use the majority of services online and through their app.
They have a range of bank accounts and savings to meet the needs of a variety of people. Personally, I would recommend the Flex Plus account. With a small monthly fee of £10 you get lots of benefits including world wide travel insurance for family, mobile phone insurance, white goods insurance, break down cover and also interest on balances. It is well worth the fee in my opinion.
Nationwide also offer mortgages, loans and credit cards which have really good reviews, too.
Perhaps best of all is that Nationwide is a building society rather than a bank which means it has no shareholders. It hasn’t (to my knowledge) been embroiled in any of the recent scandals to hit the banking sector, so that’s good, too!
I have been a member of Nationwide now for many years and for most of them I have been happy with their service.
The first savings account I opened with them was a savings account which, ok, may not have been the best interest but it was instant access. This was moved to an account which was run by post (sending cheques into the main office etc) which at the time had a good interest rate (4.5% I think it was) then after a while I opened an ISA and put the capital from the old savings account into a 5 year garented equity bond. I now have my 'rolling' cash ISA and mortgage with them and I have continued to enjoy good service throughout. I also like the email you can sign up to so you are notified about new deals and accounts and if there is anything better on offer than you already have.
My local branch is fairly large and when I visit there are a good number of 'tills' open to deal with customers and at times an extra person who if you are just paying in you can 'jump the queue' and go with him/her to a different desk to do it so that they can get things moving quicker. More importantly to me the staff are friendly and polite which gets them bonus points. Getting appointments for other things like discussing investments and mortgages is quick and easy and whilst sometimes you do need to wait a few days for them they give you enough time for the appointment to discuss everything you need to. The branch is large enough to have a number of private rooms in order for these meetings to be done in private.
When sorting out my initial mortgage, I made the mistake of letting a broker sort out my initial deal and they made a right royal mess of it. Getting hold of my broker was next to impossible but a few minutes on the phone to nationwide and I managed to get it all sorted out to what I wanted it to be. When I went in to rearrange my mortgage it was a very smooth process and the mortgage person talked me through the ones they had on offer which they could offer me and the new deal was quick and easy and more importantly correct.
The on line banking is perhaps not quite as easy to use as other banks but I only use it to keep track of my mortgage as my ISA is done with a passbook so it is not a massive inconvenience.
Naturally much of this is my own experiance with Nationwide and my own local branch in Watford - other branches may differ.
I opened my Nationwide account as a child, but i can remember going into the branch and it being a fairly simple process at the counter. Although I presume to open an adult account nowadays the process may be a little longer with ID checks etc.
I currently have a Flex current account, which unlike some of the big banks who offer perks with the account, is fee free. My account gives me free annual travel insurance which I am great fun for. Any other perks, e.g. Mobile phone insurance, breakdown cover, I believe there is a £10 monthly fee.
The number of branches seems to have dwindled in recent years, unfortunately there isn't a branch in my hometown so I do have to travel a little further, but in the days of Internet banking the need to pay in cheques is not very often. And when I have visited the branch they always seem to want me to upgrade my account, which I would do but I would loose the upgraded travel insurance I paid for (adding my partner and son) which as I had to pay for this i don't want to loose it by starting the travel insurance again.
I have in the past had my mortgage with Nationwide; however, this was by default as it was with the Portman who were later taken over by Nationwide. So although I have no exprerence of the account opening process I can recall no problems in closing the mortgage.
The most appalling customer service I have ever experienced in my life!Went in to open an account with a substantial amount of money,had a clip board and form shoved at me in the waiting area,totally the wrong form,no one to assist,was told by a passing accountant for Nationwide that if I was not happy I should go somewhere else!Stayed my ground and was eventually taken to a desk and proceeded to try and get my account opened,no joy,the girl kept blocking me and was totally out of her depth.I asked for a manager who duly came and opened my account in ten minutes .I was in the bank for over an hour in total.I followed on to another bank to open an isa and was treated so well,coffee and total proffesionalism.
I've been using Nationwide for quite a while now but not as my main bank, only as a secondary bank for another account. I opened up a bank with Nationwide a few years ago as they were the only bank who offered free withdrawals abroad and, as I travel quite a bit, this was something that I really needed.
Opening up the account was really easy and it was all done within about 20 minutes and I received my card only a few days later in the post. I was able to open up a joint account in the names of me and my husband and my husband didn't even have to be there to do this, which made it a lot easier for us.
The account I opened was the Flexaccount and this is the best one if you're planning on using it abroad. They don't actually offer free cash withdrawals and use of the debit card abroad anymore. It's now only free to use it in Europe but a 1% charge applies when using it everywhere else in the world. However, I've looked around and this is still by far the cheapest debit card to use abroad and I've never had any problems with it, whether in the UK or anywhere else in the world.
They are generally cheaper than most other banks for quite a few other things such as transferring money to a foreign bank account and, one time when I accidentally became overdrawn, they didn't charge me anything which I was really happy with.
The only irritation I have about Nationwide is that their banks aren't as widespread as most of the major UK banks which means that I need to go to the next town if I ever need to visit a branch. But all the staff have always been very helpful, honest and polite whenever I've needed something and they've never tried to push another product on me like my main bank does all the time. I'm always in and out with no hassle having done everything that I needed to do and Nationwide is definitely a bank that I'll continue to use and one that I'd recommend.
This bank is the reason my career is hanging in the balance, I opened an account with them at 16, my father has placed large sums of money, around 15,000 a year into it for my flight training. I am now 19 and went to speak with them about getting a small loan to fund the rest, they said no. I asked if there was any student type loan offer available, they said no. I asked if someone could co-sign they said no. If i had have used natest or barclays or any other bank, they would have offered it, but my history is with nationwide so i have few options, all i can hope now is that natwest, can see that this is a good proposiion and provide me with the professional study loan. I hate nationwide with a passion, I have since left for barclays and natwest, useful banks
In my view nationwide is a small bank for small customers and I couldn't be happier with that. I've never seen a bank with so FEW arbitrary rules, my local branch is friendly, open on saturdays and I can generally expect to be served quickly with few problems.
Their online banking service is always up, its easy to use, convincingly secure and lets me move money around with the greatest of ease. You request loans, credit cards, open new accounts, extend your overdraft - all online - I couldn't be happier - the only thing you can't do is change your full address which is understandable.
When I say its a small bank I am ofcourse referring to the sheer lack of branches. I love it because I work and live less than 2 miles from a branch but that's the only branch I know of in the local area.
Also, I was on a very old and badly setup account that had half the interest rate of the standard savings account and no one let me know this but I really am clutching at straws to find fault with them.
The few times I have rang them they have been polite and helpful even when my requests were pretty ridiculous.
Nationwide is the largest building society in the UK offering a wide range of financial products from savings accounts to mortgages to insurance. The building society has an extensive branch network meaning that there is a branch on nearly every high street.
I have had a savings account with them for over 16 years and a few years ago I decided to move my current account with them due to their branch network, as the bank I was with has very few branches in the South East.
I should point out this review mostly focuses on their current account banking service.
Their current account is called the Flexaccount. It offers standard things such as a cheque book, interest on positive balances and visa debit card plus most importantly for me:
1. Online and 24/7 telephone banking to make your life easier
2. An e-savings account that you can link to your current account so you can get higher interest on your money.
3. Free ATM use
4. Free withdrawals with your debit card abroad
5. Free banking if you are in credit
It takes 3 working days for cheques to be credited to the account and to earn interest.
It is not the best current account to on those Best Buy tables but always ranked near the middle.
In addition you get helpful and polite staff in the branches and on the telephone so this seems like a perfect institution to bank with.
For example if you go into the branch to change your address instead of the counter clerk giving you a form to complete or telling you to go to the information desk, they type your details into their PC print out the form and get you to sign it.
If you wish to cancel a Direct Debit payment that is due to come out, if you contact them via email through online banking with enough notice then they will cancel the Direct Debit. They will not tell you that you cannot cancel a Direct Debit through the bank as RBS, has done to me in the past.
24/7 telephone banking is a good idea if it is actually 24/7. If you dont have internet access for example if you move house, you can find that if you ring up your call is not answered at all particularly if you ring up after 9pm at night. This has happened to me on two occasions.
The helpful and politeness of the staff does not extend to the Branch Managers.
I recently wanted to move money between accounts and could not do this online. So I phoned up the Call Centre and was informed I could do this transaction in a branch. The Branch Manager in the branch near me was the rudest and most patronizing individual ever that I had the misfortune to meet working for Nationwide. She proceeded to tell me how to use Internet Banking and demand to know why I could not do the transaction. (I work in IT and my job involves making websites like the type that Nationwide have.) When I pointed out politely I was not interested in this information as I discussed it with the Call Centre she still insisted on interograting me not noticing that there was now a queue of "members" forming behind me. When I turned around and noticed the queue forming behind me I again asked if I could do the transaction I wanted, she stated No. So I left.
Another phone call to the Call Centre revealed that the branch could have done the transaction. So back I went to the branch. The manager then proceeded to interrogate me into who I spoke to on the telephone at the Call Centre and then probably realising that I had asked for her name on her previous meeting, decided to do the transaction but stated loudly to a colleague that she was doing the transaction to prevent me escalating the matter.
She was very rude while she was doing the transaction and had not apologised for previously giving me incorrect information, so when I got home I wrote a complaint to Member Services. Nationwide tells you to complain to their Call Centre or to a Branch if you have a problem however as my complaint is about a Branch Manager the only way I can complain is to Member Services.
Member Services contacted me 3 days after I sent my letter and said they are discussing my issues with the Branch Managers manager, and gave me £25.
I should point out that previously have had issues with Natwest as a student and only after I moved my account without complaining did I discovered that 15 people I knew had the same issues with the bank namely rude unhelpful staff and lending officers who seemed to make up rules on the fly.
Another recent development is that Nationwide has increased the number of security questions on their website to such a number the only way to remember the answers would be to write them down. A staff member from Nationwide explained to me that you would never need to remember all the answers for normal transactions so you can forget them. The point of the additional security questions is for "unusual" transactions. I have no idea what Nationwide classes as an unusual transaction and with the recent difficulty I have had I rather not be caught out.
B. In general
The Chief Executive of Nationwide has openly called for the end of free banking. Strangely this has coincided with Nationwide threatening to and actually closing the Flexaccounts of those members who have asked for their bank charges back under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999.
Nationwides Board is not known to be accountable and representative of the population in general. It took lots of campaigning for the first female to be elected on the board and at present there are no members from an ethnic minority. In addition the ballot papers are always designed in such a way it makes it harder for people to vote against the board's wishes.
No Nationwide general savings or banking products appear in the top of any best buy lists at the time of writing. Even if you agree with the idea of building societies apart from the branch network there is no real reason to have an account with them as smaller building societies seem to offer better bank accounts if you are happy doing your banking online or on the telephone, better savings rates and better mortgages.
Nationwide advertises that it does not have customers but members but this is not completely true. To be a member of Nationwide with any rights you have to have a Flexaccount, savings account with more than £100 in it or a mortgage. If you just have a credit card, insurance product, deposit account, loan or have brought a Nationwide product from a subsidiary of the company then you are a simply a customer and have no voting rights. If you now decide to open a savings account or Flexaccount you have to sign your rights away to any monetary windfall to the Nationwide Foundation. However I suspect if the board really wanted the Nationwide to become a bank they would give everyone shares.
Branches: click on "Branch Finder" on the top right of their website
Tel:08457 30 20 10
Nationwide Building Society,
Kings Park Road,
1. Fee free bank account with no one trying to force you into taking out a fee paying account
2. Online and telephone banking
3. Deal with complaints quickly if you know who to complain to
1. Services are not what they appear to be
2. Unaccountable board
3. Products ok at best
I have been a memebr of Nationwide for nearly four years now having opened a smart account with them because of its interest rate and all though it is still relatively high I am not impressed with the company as a whole. Firstly I use their internet banking facility and find it unbeliable that they do not offer BACS, especially when every other bank I know of does free of charge. Whilst I appreciate they do not want to be providing free transfer of amounts such as 50p they could easily set a minimum transfer figure. Therefore the only other way to transfer money out of the account is by requesting a cheque withdrawl which takes a couple of days and then you have to pay it into another account so the entire process takes over a week. Also their flex account is totally unreasonable. How do they expect to attract new customers when they do not even give under 18's a debit card(even a solo or electron card would do). They could supply one of these cards and if there is not enough money in your account they do not authorise the transaction. Therefore Nationwide clearly do not want any customers so I will keep to my HSBC account with a switch card which I was given even though my income is not massive(I am a student and only work one day a week). HSBC are ten times better than Nationwide - at least they provide a service and do not take weeks to do even the smallest task.
Being someone who has had accounts with HSBC and Lloyds TSB over the last year *cough*...moving swiftly on...let me tell you about my experience of Nationwide's banking services with a bit of a student edge...Maybe i'll "savour the delights" of the first two for a later review... :D Over the last 5 years as a nationwide member i have got all the services i would expect from any other bank...and much more...and because this is a Building Society with no shareholders, it offers a superior service in many respects. Being a student, i need good banking which is cheap, and this i have found. I am always welcomed warmly in branches, and the staff there are always very efficient. Maybe the following is what Nationwide mean in their product brochures as the "Nationwide Difference"... THE CURRENT ACCOUNT- =================== The heart of any banking, and a pretty essential toy for any student :). Now, nationwide don't offer a million different types of current account, they offer just one. Hoorahhh i hear you cry...Nice and simple, eh? There are no premium/premier/gold yada yada service accounts - perhaps not so good if you are looking for status banking? - Nor do they offer any "student" specific accounts. But don't let this put you off...read on... On a side note, they do offer various young-peoples accounts, a SMART account for people under 18, which is a LINK card high-interest instant access savings account. I have had my full current account for over 6 months now, and this is what i got with it... Now children, the FlexAccount (the Nationwide BS current account) is the only "true" current account nationwide offers, but it comes in three very delicious flavours (yummy :P). Red Flavour, Green Flavour or Blue Flavour. The green and blue flavours both come with optional o/draft as well and thus are available to over 18s only. The Basic FlexAccount (red flavour)
is available to anyone aged 16 and over, and you get a metallic red cash card and chequebook. Secondly, green Flavour - yes you guessed it, its a metallic green 100 quid cheque guarantee card and cheque book. And lastly, blue flavour. I was issued with a nice cool metallic blue-coloured Nationwide VISA/Delta Debit card, £100 cheque guarantee and cash card all in one + chequebook (basically does exactly the same as the first two all in one, along with a nice VISA logo). Pretty damn cool i thought to myself, even more surprised/shocked though that they'd actually issue such an item to an 18-year-old student who doesn't even work or have a job. Okay, so i don't work, but i'm not totally broke yet :) I applied online for my flexaccount using their online banking service, as i already had a SMART account at the time with online account access... Bog-standard i hear you say? But hang on...Perhaps the thing that stands out most about the FlexAccount is the fact there are so little charges for everything. Okay, so i have looked at some other student accounts...or even bank accounts in general? But you won't be charged if you want a copy/duplicate of any statement (have tried this, and wasn't charged), copy of any of your cheques (have tried this and wasn't charged), stopping cheques for whatever reason are free, even bankers references, and giros. Most other building societies don't even offer this with their current account, let alone the banks. When this is coupled with good branch services, it makes for some damn good (student) banking in my opinion. I have yet to find ANY bank or even another building society, which offers a current account set-up like this, even in a student account. There are various expensive charges for card "misuse" hehe, bounced cheques etc, but like any good student i do my best to avoid these :P Another big plus is that you don't have to fill in those annoying paying in/withdr
awal slips like you do in banks, just hand over your cash/cheques and yer card at any branch, and you get given a receipt. I have used my FlexAccount card on three different continents so far. I believe most banks, including the "big four" and ex-building societies, charge for using current account cards in other countries, both in ATMs and in shops. I have never ever been charged for using my card for either of these services (so far) anywhere here in the UK, in the US, France, or most recently in South Africa. I have never had my card rejected in shops here, abroad or eaten for dinner by any ATM (*crosses fingers*). Maybe i have just been lucky while out of the country and managed to pick ATMs where the machine owners do not add charges...Either way, nationwide never adds its own charges in foreign country transactions. This is where this visa delta debit card really stands out in my mind, and not only is it accepted everywhere because its visa (unlike switch cards) but even the maestro facility on Switch cards are not widely accepted around the world like visa. Plus a visa debit card can be used on American websites as payment, as Switch is rarely accepted. Any flavour of flexaccount card will let you have up to 500 quid of your hard earned cash everyday from pretty much any ATM in the world, or any branch will give you a cheque free of charge up to the amount in your account. The more money you pay into the account each month, the higher in the interest rate tier. True, this isn't the highest available as some of the internet only and a few high street banks, but with the e-savings facility available on the internet, the account remains very competitive in many respects. THE CREDIT CARD- =============== The nationwide credit card is probably the most boring credit card you will see in your entire life. Right, now we have gotten that (minor) issue out the way, let me introduce you to my flexible friend, A
KA money back credit card. But don't let its immensely dull exterior deceive you! Currently, i am on 1% money back for 6 months, then it drops down to 0.5%. Nationwide offers three cards, all with no yearly fee. Classic (13.9% APR), Cash reward and comic relief (15.9%). Nationwide do not offer 'student' specific banking services, but for a student this has to be one of the best possible value "student" credit card deals available...if you dare to have a credit card as a student that is!!! :D. The APR on this card is slightly higher than n/wide's classic card by a few %, but if you look at other student-specific credit cards from some of the banks, some charge upwards of 20% to students with no incentives!!!! Rip off or what! All foreign currency purchases out of the UK are converted to £'s by the in-house rate by VISA international, not by Nationwide, and you don't get charged a percentage for using the card abroad either. Most banks i have been told sometimes charge, and then use their own in-house currency conversion rates and so you get a very poor deal with some bank credit cards. However, for any of you high earners out there, Nationwide do issue a Gold credit card (i assume these look just as boring as the standard ones...). Min. limit for all the standard cards is £500, min for the gold is about 3k i think. The gold card is not advertised in any of their product brochures, but apparently you need to earn more than 25k a year to have one. It comes with the same standard features as in both the classic and money back flavours, and i believe the only extras of gold are higher purchase protection/insurance benefits. ONLINE (otherwise-known-as-no-seriously-annoying-queues) BANKING- ================================================================ Okay, so i exaggerate. The queues aren't THAT bad - its probably just a student thing, we're all impatient like that :) Anyways...a
lthough th e nationwide online internet banking service is perhaps not the koolest looking thing in the world, especially compared to some of the others - its still damn useful. Balances are in real-time, and it comes served with good security too (three passwords/IDs). You can view any personal accounts online, and you can apply to open most personal accounts online too. Its design is extremely good when you come to use it, and the range of things you can do online are good, and cover pretty much everything you need. All the stand stuff you would expect with 'net banking, mini-statements, fully detailed statements, standing orders, direct debits, bill payments, PIN order, secure messages to customer services. And if there isn't something which is included, you can just send a message to customer services through the secure messaging facility. Response times to this are usually very good as well. I think they say a reply is within 24 or 48 hrs (can't remember), although i have found it to be much faster than this on many occasions. I have been known to get a customer service response within 1 hour (and on a Friday evening too !!)...Not a bad performance i have to say... N/Wide don't advertise their telephone banking service, i think its been "discontinued" but its still optionally available as part of the FlexAccount at no charge. Although i did register (give a password) for the service when applied for my account, i have never had used it so i can't say how good it is or isn't. Maybe someone else has around here and can comment on this? N/Wide have also improved the online service immensely over the last six months or so too. Transfers done online between all [atm card-based and online] accounts (flexaccount, card based savings, e-savings etc) and are now totally instant and in real-time. This means you can transer money to the FlexAccount straight from e-savings and immediately take it out from a ca
sh machine, and this is something i use on a regular basis. Also, the speed of their internet banking is much faster than it was before. Many branches of nationwide are now also being fitting with internet terminals so you can access e-savings from branches as well. E-savings isn't tiered, and earns interest at B of E base rate on ALL balances over £1. The maximum is 50k, but show me a student with THAT much money spend...a student in this country is more likely to be pretty much minus 50k in the red :) IN CONCLUSION... ================ It would seem Nationwide tries to be competitive in all areas and financial products, not just one. Okay, so they don't always offer the absolute BEST available for everything all the time - but i don't think that's possible anyway. As far as i can see they generally offer something highly competitive in all areas. I think the only true competition is from some of the internet banks which are about. So if you want good rates but still want a branch then nationwide is excellent in my opinion. I have never had a mistake made or any reason to complain so far. Its definitely a huge benefit to be a member of the society for longer than three years, as you get access to members saving products and bonds with much higher interest rates. So, even if i am forced to have to open a student account with a bank *shock*, i'll definitely be keeping good 'ol flexaccount in my back pocket. Lets hope they remain a building society, otherwise all this stuff i have just typed out will most likely have been a total and utter waste of time...but i still don't know why they don't plug the mutuality thing a bit more...
Nationwide has a great instant access savings account for 12-17 year olds who want some independence with their money but also a decent interest rate on their cash. I had a Smart account until recently and I found it really good. It is supposed to be for up to 18 year olds only but you can keep it for another 6 months after your 18th birthday – take advantage of the good rates for a bit longer! It has 4.3% AER interest that is paid at the end of June and then the end of December, and you only need £1 to open it! When you open the account you get a magazine and folder to keep you paperwork in – typical stuff aimed at the younger savers. You can have either a card account or a passbook account. The passbook may be better if it is a first account and parents want to keep and eye on the money, but the card is better for older kids as you can then use Link machines to withdraw cash. You can take out £100 a day, but if you then go into a branch you can withdraw a further £100 if you need to make a big purchase. The machines can also be used to make deposits and get mini-statements. Nationwide offers an Internet Banking option as well. You can register on the website and they will send you a letter containing a log on code. You can then use the web to check your balance, read old statements and transfer money to other Nationwide accounts. This is very handy if you need to check a payment has gone through but can’t get to a machine to get a mini-statement. Overall the Smart account is a very well run account for younger savers. When you reach 18 (or 18 ½) you can change up to the adult Flex account or the Student account run by Nationwide easily. The only downside I had was that the account never offered a solo/electron type facility that could be used as a debit card for older savers, or a chequebook. Despite this I would recommend this account as an excellent savings account for younger people.
I recently applied for a Nationwide Flex Account, I chose to do this online via their website which as mentioned by other users is well laid out. 14 days later I was still awaiting confirmation of this account, luckily Nationwide provide you with a tracking/pre account code with passnumber etc for you to access your applied for accounts, I tried this service and the system did not let me in, when calling NW they claimed that they knew nothing of my application and said to apply again. second time round: this was fine and everything was in order, 3 days later I received a letter advising me that NW had great pleasure in welcoming me as a customer, yet gave me a savings account what could only be described useful enough for a 10 year old. For a 35 year old business man earning in excess of 40K a year, a cash card would not suffice. NW claim that this was offered based on a system called credit scoring - however I had also applied to 4 other well know banks and all of them offered a complete package with overdraft, debit visa cards etc etc, again based on point scoring. To sum up: unless you are 10 and require just a savings account or you have a excellent point scoring ability this is not the account to go for as it seems they want you to trust them with your money, yet need only to allow you one way of accessing it, which is the most limied way. showing very little trust in prospective customers regardless of any amount of money you deposit.
In my home town there aren’t all that many building societies, or rather there aren’t all that many of those things that used to be called building societies. When the day came, after having savings in TSB for about 15 years, to move my money elsewhere, I naturally wanted somewhere I could get to easily, and so after checking that they were relatively suitable and that they’d offer me a good interest rate, I switched to Nationwide. At the time I was young enough to have an under 18s account (which I got to keep until I was 19, yay) and although I’ve had to move on since then, I’ve stuck with the company. On the front of it, Nationwide are like any other financial institution. They have a wide range of accounts, both current and savings, and also offer loans and mortgages, and ISAs and so on. Their branches are often small – say two or three counters – but they have them all over so they never get all that crowded. I have always found the service offered by Nationwide to be excellent. The staff at my home branch still know me by name (despite the fact I’ve not lived there for over 2 years, and only go back during holidays – and even then only during the holidays I’m spending in the UK, which is very few) and are always friendly and polite. On the one occasion when I was charger tax on my interest, a quick visit to the Piccadilly Gardens branch sorted it out, and it hasn’t happened since. The most frequently offered current account is called the flex account. This offers up to 2.5% interest on credit balances, fee use of 700 000 ATMs worldwide, a fee free overdraft (although this isn’t interest free), a combined cash/cheque guarantee/debit card, commission free foreign currencies and free telephone and internet banking. Or so they say. When I opened this account, they wouldn’t offer me a card that does anything more than let me withdraw cash because my income
wasn’t high enough and I was too young. This wasn’t a problem for me, since it’s not my main bank anyway, but it was a bit off putting that they didn’t think I was a safe or reliable enough customer, especially since they’re currently looking after more than a bit of my money. Trust, it seems, is a one way street as far as this company are concerned. When I had to move from my Smart account to an adult one, my obvious choice was their e-savings account which offered the best rate of interest on the high street at the time. It doesn’t anymore, but most weeks it still makes the Sunday Times Money section’s top 5. Getting an e-savings account’s not all that straight forward. First you have to have a flex account. Then, you can get online and set up an e-savings part. All deposits and withdrawals have to go through the flex account, so it takes an extra day for my money to get there if I’m transferring from HSBC. Although technically instant access, the e-savings/flex account combo has a downside: using the internet alone, although you can get money into the account, you can’t transfer it out again after putting it into the flex account – using their internet banking system, you can only transfer between personal bank accounts held with Nationwide. This is a pain for me here, as I’m far away from the branches and manage my UK accounts solely online. In the UK I can withdraw cash using my card and then deposit it in a different account with a different institution, but even so, I wouldn’t want to be walking around Manchester with thousands in my pocket. My other main gripe is that they take 7 working days to clear cheques which I do see as a little excessive in this day and age. Although the e-savings is their most popular savings account, they do have others, although these all have lower interest rates and/or notice periods, where you have to say, for example, 60 days i
n adv an ce before you can get at your money, or risk losing your interest. For a full run-down of accounts, their website is a great tool. You can select the best one for you by choosing from certain options, and compare interest rates across the accounts. At the end of the day the only thing that matters to me is the level of interest. I don’t care if they’re polite or have lots of branches or a wonderful range of products as long as they have a nice safe internet banking service (which they do) and offer a competitive rate of interest (ditto). My experience with them hasn’t been so wonderful that I’d make them my main bank ahead of HSBC, but for now I’m quite happy for them to have my savings. Especially in a place not so easy for me too touch. www.nationwide.co.uk Recommended, but it does depend on your circumstances. Savings are go, but current acounts a no.