Newest Review: ... in Central London. I was happy to be able to withdraw money with my debit card whenever I chose to, pay for goods and etc. However, ... more
Shock Horror - Satisfied Nat West Customer!
Member Name: wendybull
Advantages: Excellent individual Service
Disadvantages: A little pushy on the loan front as a youngster
As a teenager I was a total idiot when it came to money, and as a result I have managed to have experience with credit zones, over drafts, consolidation loans, credit cards, bank charges and lots and lots of customer service. Most of my experience has turned out positive in the end but I have wasted an awful lot of money in the process. I am slightly more cautious with my money now (although I wouldn’t ask my husband the same question!) and utilise their services much better than the spend thrift I used to be.
Current Account & Overdrafts
Nat West has eight current accounts available. These range from accounts where you pay them a monthly value and in return you get discounts on lots of every day things like CD’s right through to a students account where you get an interest free overdraft. Mine is the bog standard account (Current Plus Account) that is ideal for having your monthly salary paid into and various standing orders or direct debits taken out of. In essence it is the “junction” account for a lot of transactions to go through on the way to better places. For instance I used to have my salary paid into this account and I had several standing orders set up in order to pay the money over to the “bill account” and other direct debits for personal spending etc. You are given a chequebook and a paying in book, and you can also apply for a Switch debit card or Solo card from this account. One thing I like with Nat West is that you can opt to have the “picture” chequebook, where there are faint pictures of wild animals on all the cheques free of charge.
I have an overdraft facility set up on my current account, because if you go overdrawn without a prior arrangement you are going to get badly penalised. I am pretty sure this is similar for a lot of banks but Nat West will charge you £28 before you have even got to the point of paying the interest on the amount you are overdrawn. Nat West charges a massive 2.19% a month (EAR 29.69%) variable. All in all, it certainly pays to have an overdraft or even a credit zone agreed when you open an account, even if you think you will never use it, it does not hurt to have in place and as it costs you nothing if it’s not used it seems silly not to do it.
If you have arranged an overdraft the interest rate you are charged drops dramatically to 1.45% a month (EAR 18.86%) variable. There is obviously no standing charge of £28 if you use it, as it is already arranged and this really made a difference to me as I began to regularly use my overdraft. Even now I use it every month because my work (being self employed) brings clients cheques in at different times each month, especially with late payments and this gives me a “buffer” to lean on if I need it.
I have since opened a business account with them too and I got a very good introductory offer on the account, meaning I did not have to pay any charges for daily use for the first 18 months. I do pay now and the charges are not excessive, although I try to keep activity to a minimum on this account, urging clients I know well to make cheques payable to my personal account rather than my business account.
I have had to use this service from Nat West, again in my early years with them, I got myself in a big mess financially, with all my salary being swallowed from the previous month’s overdraft. Eventually Nat West wrote to me and asked me to come into the branch for an informal chat. I was petrified, being so young and naïve about how these things worked and I really thought I would be a lot of trouble. Instead they offered me a consolidation loan to pay off my overdraft so I could start afresh and get things in order. I accepted without a word of hesitation and everything was fine for a couple of months, then before I knew it I was over drawn again but still had the loan to pay. This is where I wish I had been savvier about financial ideas and maybe shopped around to get a better deal on a consolidation loan. The one Nat West offered me was certainly not the best on the market and I ended up paying way over the odds for my repayments, on top of the new overdraft interest rates I had acquired.
These days Nat West seem to be a bit more competitive with loan rates of 6.9% APR typical, on a £7,500+ loan and also offering a flexi loan, similar to lots of others, where you can pay more off with no penalty. I would still probably not recommend Nat West for loans though, simply because there are so many different options available through simple research on the Internet. For instance Sainsburys are offering 6.1% on loans from £1,000, and this was my first check – so there are better deals out there.
Other Banking Customs
Nat West has joined the ever-growing band of banks and building societies that offer telephone and Internet banking. I did use telephone banking for a while but found it very restrictive and not fast enough for me, having to wait for options to be read out and punch in numbers to your keypad. I have since registered for online banking and find the whole process extremely quick, easy and efficient. I don’t think there is anything you can’t do on here. I won’t go into detail as that is for a separate review, but I would maybe have considered changing accounts if they had not begun this service a few years ago. I now do all my banking through the Internet, except for paying in physical cheques.
I have had numerous reasons to go into the branches over the years and I have never found anyone to be unhelpful or rude. A variety of queries, questions and situations have arisen over the course of my banking life and every one has been dealt with effectively. The latest query I had was to do with opening my business account. There was a slight hitch in opening this due to some incorrect adverse credit history against my name. A new and rather large client depended upon me having this account open and running and Nat West really put themselves out for me when I explained the situation. The actually contacted Experian (the credit agency) and spoke to someone there, after I had given them permission to do so, in order to get my account opened in time. This to me was extremely kind and helpful and what good customer service is all about. I have been treated as an individual right from the start with Nat West, even when I was a stupid teenager spending money hand over fist. I was not forced into anything I did not want (except maybe the loan in the early days) and they always listened to my concerns.
There are so many other services Nat West offer (insurance, mortgage, savings to name a few) that I could not possible review them all here. You would be asleep before I was a fifth of the way through (if you’re not already!) however I have touched upon the points I use regularly and for me the most important ones. I would not have any hesitation in recommending Nat West for a current account, although I have not looked into the competition for business accounts, preferring to keep everything together.
My advice is to spend a bit of time researching various options of banks and building societies to build up a knowledge of what they offer and what will suit you the best. I am happy with Nat West, may be through ignorance of what else is out there but they have been a good bank for me and I will stay with them for the foreseeable future, if only for the pictures on the cheque books!
Summary: 18 years later and I am still there - must count for something.