I am one of the rarest things in the world of banking - a happy customer. I've been with my main bank - Barclays - for nearly 30 years and I love them. However I had one specific issue that led me to go looking around for an 'extra' bank. I had long been looking for a bank that would give me free, no commission withdrawals from overseas banks.
For a long time this was possible with Nationwide but they stopped some time ago. I use European ATMs a lot because I travel so much for work. I really resent the charges involved. I already have a credit card with zero overseas charges but I needed a cheaper 'hole in the wall' solution. I spotted N&P on the Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert website and signed up.
No charge on foreign ATM use
No need to transfer everything to this bank - so I could keep my Barclays accounts for my main use
Excellent online banking website - clear, secure and easy to use.
The not so good:
Minimum monthly pay in of £500. Some may find they can't spare that much but there's nothing to stop you setting up a standing order to send it back to your other bank a few days later.
No interest on balances.
I found it easy to set up online and I made this a joint account so that my husband can also use the ATMs without us having to set up TWO accounts and therefore need £1000 a month in pay ins. I was accepted straight away and then received a lot of letters with passwords, codes, conditions etc. I would estimate about 5 or 6 letters turned up in the week or two after I applied.
So far I've not used this very much at all but I'm impressed with the ease of set up and the clear updates on balances and payments. If the free foreign ATM use ever gets withdrawn, I will close my account but for now, I'm happy.
I spent six months in Italy, so after doing all the research, I decided the best way to keep my money while there was with N&P and with the equivalent debit card. I didn't plan enough time ahead, and ended up dealing with it two weeks before my flight, over the Christmas period. From the first phone call, I talked to the same (UK based) customer service representative, who was very helpful. Unlike almost any other bank I've been with, she always called back punctually when she said she would, explained every step of the process, and kept me updated throughout. From first phone call to card and PIN number arriving took two weeks, which is very quick.
As I was abroad, I used only internet banking, and their internet banking was very convenient and easy to use, again unlike many other banks I could name. I was planning on closing the account when I returned from Italy, but their service was good enough that I'll be keeping my account with them.
The Norwich and Peterborough Building Society (N&P) merged with the Yorkshire Building Society in 2011. Its head office is in Peterborough, but the group's head office is in Bradford. N&P is now just a trading name of the Yorkshire, but offers quite different products to the others parts of the Yorkshire group.
The Yorkshire Building Society is the 2nd biggest building society in UK (out of 47) with assets of £33,177 million (as of Dec 2011; source - Building Societies Association). It is protected by the FSCS, meaning that all savings up to £85,000 per person are fully guaranteed by the government in the unlikely event that the Yorkshire were to go bust. It is worth noting that all your accounts with the Yorkshire group are included in this £85,000, so add up everything you have with N&P, Yorkshire, Chelsea and Barnley building societies when calculating how much you have in the Yorkshire group.
The Yorkshire (and hence N&P) is owned by its members (it's a mutual society) and so has no share-holders. While this might seem quite a minor difference, it means that there are no big investors baying for huge profits at the expense of the customer, as could happen with high street banks like Lloyds, HSBC etc. It also means that they are governed by slightly different legislation to the banks. They are not allowed to take part in some of the more risky types of investment instruments, such as some derivatives trading, and they are only allowed to speculate if it is to minimize their risk, Whereas the big banks, as we all know, can speculate on a huge variety of instruments and often derive their profits from this speculation.
The advantage of this for the members (all borrowers and savers are members of the society subject to meeting certain minimum criteria) is that there are not likely to be any nasty surprises in the form a huge trading loss, and that any profits can be kept within the building society rather than being paid out to external investors.
I have been a customer of the N&P Building Society for about 20 years. I have had a number of savings accounts and current accounts with them over the years.
I tend to try to open my accounts with the N&P online, although I do pop in to one of their branches from time to time, if I am in the area. They have 45 branches, mostly in the Norwich, Peterborough and Cambridge area. The staff have always been friendly and helpful, although I find that they like to stick to what they know; so if I have something a bit out of the ordinary to do, I try to do it by post at head office.
The N&P does have some very good accounts. Currently (October 2012), they have several high paying regular savings accounts with their E-Family regular saver and Gold regular saver accounts both paying 5% fixed for a year. That's a great rate. However, the one catch is, once you have had one, you can never have another one again - it's a one shot account, if you like. N&P also has other regular savers paying 4% - also a very good rate - but with the same 'one time only' catch. Having said that, get one for a year and enjoy the interest rate.
The N&P also offers a steady-eddy E-saving account paying 2.50% for instant access (October 2012). Of course, like all building societies, it has its share of poor accounts - for example the NetMasterGold Saver II, which only pays 0.35% - so it pays to check out the rates before deciding where to put your hard earned cash.
There is also a range of cash ISAs (the N&P does not offer JISAs nor stocks and shares ISAs), but none of these is remarkable, all paying decent but far from table-topping rates.
N&P offers 2 current accounts - Gold Classic and Gold Lite. Both accounts have minimum activity requirements to avoid paying a £5 per month fee - for the Classic you have to pay in a minimum of £500 per month and for the Lite you must make 5 transactions a month. Although neither account pays interest on credit balances, they both have the advantage of free card usage abroad (so you can take cash out of an ATM or pay in a shop without that sneaky 2.5% extra charge being added on top) and they offer free Sentinel protection for your keys, cards and documents. The accounts do all the usual things - direct debits, standing orders, cheque book, debit card etc. While I don't use my N&P current account as my main account, I do like to know that I have my cards protected for free and I do use my N&P debit card for all my overseas transactions.
The N&P offers a reasonable credit card, a variety of mortgages (including discount and fixed rates) and insurance. I have not used them for these products; although I have obtained insurance quotes, I have always found that I could get the same or better cover cheaper elsewhere.
I use the N&Ps internet banking and find it easy to use and efficient. Nothing too exciting, but it does what I want it to do, so I cannot complain.
In short, the N&P offers some good savings accounts and offers one of the only UK current accounts to offer a debit card that is free to use abroad. It's definitely worth considering, especially if you holiday abroad.
My reviews may also appear on Ciao and other sites under the same user name.
© BobbieAl 2012
When I closed my N & P Current account it took 10 weeks to transfer the funds to my new Bank. Endless phone calls to Customer Service proved hopeless and call backs didn`t materialise. The initial BACS transfer to my new bank was not forthcoming and 3 personal cheques to my home also failed to arrive. To cap it all after 10 weeks I received a statement indicating the Account was "Closed" but Customer Services had no idea where the balance money was. The same problem occurred with my ISA, it will probably be another week ( making 11 in all) before that is sorted. Only after I faxed Head Office and initiated an official complaint did they take it seriously. No letter of apology received. Would I recommend N & P Banking - certainly not
I am not amused at attempts to get at my internet banking. With this silly dooyoo web page I want to go straight into internet banking without registering again cannot some thing be done for your loyal customers before we find somewhere else to Bank!Regards Maurice.Ps Why cannot I submit with zero rating?
Well well well, I haven't been with Norwich and Peterborough Building Society very long (yes, its such a looooongg name), in fact I joined this building society in April this year, and i have to say i have been extremely impressed so far (in fact, lets just call it N&P from now on!). N&P is not a large building society, quite small in fact, but is still one of top 15 UK building societies! This is by far the most 'personal' service i have received in terms of banking services so far. You won't feel like "just a number" at all. No request or question is too small or unimportant...I assume this is because they are quite small society, especially compared to banks or the larger building societies. Their staff are friendly on the phone, and helpful. There is only one branch 'near' me... in London! Which is nice, but too far to trek on a regular basis, so i do operate my HeadStart account using the post. But what is the HeadStart account i hear you cry? Well, if you are aged 18-23, you probably won't find a better interest rate for no-penalty instant access savings. The minimum balance is £25 for this account, and interest is at 4.2% gross/aer p.a variable (not quite 0.5% above BofE base rate - that's at time of writing this review of course!) paid once a year on Jan 1st. Anyone under the age of 24 can have one, but given the fact preferential rates stop with other financial institutions usually when you reach 18, those 18 and over will probably benefit most from this account. The HeadStart account is an instant access passbook account only (no cash card). You can use it to withdraw/pay-in at any of their branches, or by post (just drop the passbook into any post box with the pre-paid first class envelopes). You can withdraw cash over the counter (up to £500 in cash), or they will give you a building society cheque in your own name, or to a third party if you need one (this is also what happens if you w
ithdraw money by post). In total though, you can't save more than half a million pounds with the society. For you old fogies out there (just kidding :P), their accounts may still be worth a look even if you are too ancient to qualify for the HeadStart account - they have various different types of savings accounts with competitive rates. Most of N&P's accounts can be operated from anywhere in the country by post if you don't live near a branch. You can have a postal service activated as part of your account at no cost even if your account isn't specifically postal-based (e.g. for thier current account). As with all building societies now, to stop carpetbaggers, new members must sign away any future windfall benefits to charity. This is no different with N&P, although there are exceptions to this - however i really don't know what they are. Usually if there are exceptions, its if you take out a mortgage. As long as you open a Share account (which the HeadStart account is), you will become a member of the society and are entitled vote every year if you have invested 100 quid or more. Most of the savings accounts are Share accounts, except the deposit accounts, business accounts and current account. Website ------------------- Speaking as someone who runs a large website, the vomit-coloured yellow background on their website just has to go (yuck!). I really should email them about it! Its horrible, and almost blinds me (or maybe its my computer monitor!) If you can abstain from throwing-up all over your keyboard, then checkout their site at www.npbs.co.uk (a nice short URL too, which we like!). Still though, yellow aside, its a very good site for a small building society, and provides up-to-date details on all their borrowing and savings accounts, interest rates, charges and society details. All clearly laid out, and easy to find. You can order most account forms over their site, and they wil
l send them first class to your house. You can download various forms to print via Adobe Acrobat too. To open my HeadStart account I downloaded the general savings account application form from their site in PDF format, and just printed it out. You obviously need to send various pieces of id/proof of address along with the form if decide to do this - there is a PDF you can download telling you all about this too! They were extremely fast in opening in my account. I emailed them yesterday because i needed a few forms, and had a few questions about my account - after sending an email, you get a confirmation auto-reply email saying they will reply within 2 working days. I got a reply within 1 hour! I did have to send them a few more details, to which i got a second reply within 5 minutes from the same person, telling me they would send the forms in the post immediately (same day), and they should arrive shortly. These arrived this morning in fact! Am i impressed? Damn right i am... Show me a bank that's this good! Internet Banking ------------------- I was quite shocked and impressed at the same time with this. And yes, its unfortunate that the NetmasterGold online banking service as its called, happens to be the very same puke yellow background from their website! But you see, its not often a small building society has its own full internet banking service - in fact only a small number do. Then again, only a few societies offer a full-service current account! Shame really, because they tend to be extremely good. Nationwide BS does happen to be the king of the current account though (see my op about this if you are interested). If you are a bit unhappy about using email (which is insecure) to discuss your account details (and you have every right to be), N&P's online banking service comes complete with secure messaging facility to their customer services and NetmasterGold support team. They will answer all your questions,
and help you out with any problems or queries quickly. You can even phone the NetmasterGold team too! All account balances are all in real time, and there is a comprehensive demo for the NetmasterGold on their site - it has a feature demo for both a current and savings account to give you an idea of what you can do online with each account. All the "standard features" of any Internet banking service are included here, so i won't bore you by going into a huge amount of depth! It includes: -Account summary -Statements -View transactions -Payments -Transfer funds -Secure e-mail -Give Notice of withdrawal But its definitely worth checking out the demo if you intent to open an account. N&P have a number of special accounts, which can be operated solely on the internet. A NetmasterGold Saver account (basically an e-savings account) and a very competitive online ISA. Some of these accounts you can apply for online too. Pretty much ALL their personal savings accounts can now be operated/viewed via their NetmasterGold Online Banking service, which is extremely useful, but you must be 18 or over to register for the online service. Additional Notes ------------------------- ** N&P offer some of the best rate mortgages on the market - definitely worth a look if you have one! ** They offer an offshore savings account. ** All insurance, pensions etc type products are done though Norwich Union. ** They have ATM card-based savings accounts that can actually be used abroad! Norwich and Peterborough Building Society: http://www.npbs.co.uk
Netmastergold is a set of accounts from the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society that can operated over the internet. They offer a Current, a Savings, a Children’s, an ISA, a Business and a Postal account as part of the Netmastergold family. I have good experience of the Netmastergold Current and Savings accounts. The Savings account pays a passable 4.25% at the moment and any interest rate above base rate has to be acceptable these days, and is actually quite good considering it is an instant access account. On the Netmastergold.co.uk website there is fairly good interactive Demo of how these two accounts work and interact, so it is well worth having a play to see if the current and savings accounts are for you. To open a savings account called the Netmastergold Saver II account you have to open a Netmastergold Current account. This is a pain, bit like the Nationwide e-savings account, but then I suppose this is really all about a current account with the convenience of being able to run a savings account alongside, rather than just a straight savings account. Money can be transferred freely and instantly between the two accounts. Accounts can be opened by any UK residents who have a gross income of either earned and/or investment income of at least £6000, and are over 18 years old. You need to ring their 0845 phone number for an application form or you can request one by email. Application is as straightforward as any building society, and you can open an account with as little as £1. You need to supply the usual two original documents; one proof of address and another as proof of identity so they can check you are not Mr Big intent on money laundering. For the purposes of opening building society accounts I usually send a piece of correspondence from the tax man like a coding notice and a utility bill, as usual you have to send originals so don’t send anything valuable like a driving licence. If you have filled the form in properly they will process your application and send you two letters, one with your new customer number and, a couple of days later, a secure letter with your password. When you log in for the first time you have the opportunity to put in a password of your choice. Norwich & Peterborough are still a mutual building society but you now have to sign away your conversion rights to a charity forever, so this is no account for carpetbaggers. I have to admit mine was opened before the sign-away rights came into force with carpetbagger intentions that (baah) haven’t materialised, but, as it turns out their interest rate is quite attractive. They provide a conventional chequebook with a £100 cheque guarantee card and paying in slips which can be used at any bank or for sending direct to Netmastergold in the pre-paid envelopes. With the Switch card provided you can withdraw up to £250 per day at any Link enabled machine if you keep the PIN number they supply, or just write yourself a cheque at any bank and use the cheque guarantee card. Security is probably as good as other banking sites, one bit of comfort is that they automatically log you out after ten minutes of inactivity, and MS Windows autocomplete function seems to get disabled. I have fallen foul of being locked out completely when I hadn’t logged into the account for more than three months. A phone call resolved the problem within ten minutes and they were very courteous and civil on the phone. Interest is accrued and paid out, or added to your accounts, annually and they will send you a tax voucher on request after the end of each tax year, and, as with all building societies, you can request interest be paid gross if your income for the year falls below your tax allowance. You log into the main website and at the bottom there is the internet banking link which opens a separate window for you to log in. I’ve found i
t wise not to close the main website page otherwise the login and subsequent pages tend to error or log you out unexpectedly. You need your customer number and your own ten digit password. Any problems and there are humans available 8 till 8 weekdays and 9 till 5 Saturdays on an 0845 phone number. There is always a Help button on every page which displays information pretty relevant to the page you are on. There is also a secure email facility and the couple of times I sent them a message they have responded within 24 hours with very clear and concise, and correct, answers. The on line statements for each account are very clear, cheque transactions are shown just as cheque numbers, standing orders and direct debits tell you the detail of who you’ve paid. You can analyse your statements by cheques, direct debits & standing orders, switch or you can show them all. I keep just one penny in the current account and only transfer money into it from the savings account when I need to transfer money out to an external account or write a cheque. From the current account you can make one off payments to anyone and also set up your own standing orders to anyone with a UK bank account, so long as you know their sort code, account name and number and you can set the payment date which is useful, unlike some internet accounts such as Egg. Funds take about four working days to reach their destination. You can advise other organizations of your account details so they can set up direct debits with you or transfer money via BACS. You can view any direct debits and cancel them if need be. My main criticism of the Netmastergold accounts is that I have found that cheques paid in tend to take ages before showing up as “available funds”. I recently queried the inordinate amount of time to clear a cheque and they said it is fours WORKING days to clear NOT counting the day it lands/appears in the current account. This is a bit out of
order compared to proper banks as you are seriously losing out on interest. Eg: send cheque Monday post, should arrive Tues, appears in a/c Wed, Wed doesn’t count, Thur, Fri, Mon, Tues are the four working days, funds become available on Wed – in my reckoning I lose up to ten days interest on those funds. Not impressive. They are supposed to be offering a current account so clearance should be quicker, but then they are not a party to the normal bank clearing system. This is one of the main problems of building societies trying to offer current accounts. Being a cynic, I could say that it is not in their interest to become part of the clearing system as the longer they take to clear cheques the more money they make on your funds whilst they are hanging around in limbo. There are a couple of ways around these delays. Firstly rather than paying cheques into your current account using the provided pay-in slips at banks, or putting in the post, send the cheque with a letter, quoting your Savings account number and request it be paid straight in. I think it will then earn interest from day one, but I haven’t made that many transactions to test the theory, but it certainly knocks two days off the delays. The other way is to always try and transfer money between your banks and building society accounts by BACS again quoting the Savings account number; this at least knocks out the postal and over the counter delays. Overall Netmastergold is quite good and has always been reliable, no transaction mistakes have ever been made, and I like this account because you get a real cheque book and pay in book, so you could say it is a good account if you want operate it as a conventional bank account but want the extra convenience of viewing and managing it on line. As mentioned my only concern is the cheque clearing time, otherwise I might be tempted to use them as a conventional bank account.
I've been with the Norwich and Peterborough now for about 2 years - and have nothing but praise for them. Always cheerful smiling faces, polite and efficient, willing to help you if you need any information about any of their services. They have different accounts for different needs. I have a Canary Account, which not only gives me interest on my Savings but also helps support the Norwich footie team, apparently. I know it enables you to get tickets cheaper ... but I've never taken them up on that offer as (sorry lads) I'm not a footie fan. I also have a Gold Account with them, with a cheque book and a Switch card. Very useful to have, whether for making purchases or paying bills by phone. No need to carry loads of money around or have to go here and there to pay the bills. Council tax? Paid by phone, so simple. Like a lot of other bills. The Switch card also works abroad as long as the cash machine is on the same network. Take out the local currency, and it debits your account in pounds and pence. Better than travellers cheques in my view. They also offer all kinds of long term savings, monet market type funds and even a share brokerage. The minimum fee on that is I think £20 per company, so if you have £50 to buy shares with, it will cost you £70 to buy them. Now if you split your buying between two or more companies, it's £20 EACH company, so you'd pay more. They are always willing to explain it to you though and to offer whatever help you need. They're small and friendly, which works well for me. I like a more personal approach to dealing with my money (or sometimes lack of it). I originally had a $500 overdraft on the Gold Account, then they upped it to £800 for me - and believe me, there have been times I've had it maxed out. Their fees for the service are very reasonable. Well worth considering if ever you need to use it. They also allow you to access your
accounts over the internet, which helps you keep track on what's going in and out. Once you have your access number and password, you can access your account from any computer, anywhere in the world, even if you're on holiday! Works for me! Overall they are at a 10 in my book. Wonderful staff, a good and caring attitude. They act like I'm important to them, that my custom is wanted and that my problems are readily solveable.